Love ‘em or leave ‘em, fur handbags made bold and luxurious statements on fall’s international runways, and this winter, these beast-like bags will be everywhere. If you’re intent on upping the ante of your cold-weather look with a furry punctuation mark, and can’t afford the fare of haute houses like Lanvin and Prada, you might consider the lush offerings of Connie Ganzhorn, an enterprising Torontonian who’s designing sensational bags from re-claimed fur.
Eager to get creative and be her own boss, 47-year-old Ganzhorn, who’d spent 25 years in the pharmaceutical business, quit her job a couple of years ago when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “My father gave me two of my mother’s fur coats, knowing that with my mom’s declining cognitive ability and need for full-time care, she wouldn’t be able to look after, or have a desire to wear, her fur coats,” explains Ganzhorn. “Being unemployed, I didn’t want to spend a fortune updating/remodeling the fur coats. I immediately thought that the coats would make amazing handbags and with my father’s approval to deconstruct the coats, I proceeded to design 3 bags… one for myself and one for each of my two daughters.” An avid horseback rider, Ganzhorn chose English bridle leather and equestrian inspired buckles for the handles and hardware, which she sourced online. She also found someone who could make the bags. Thrilled with the final product, she soon began getting orders from friends and family, and knew she was on to something. Her creative efforts have blossomed into a full-blown business called MINK Handbags.
Determined to only produce bags from re-claimed fur, Ganzhorn purchases old fur coats primarily at estate sales and auctions. “No animal lives are compromised in sourcing our fur, “ she notes. All hand-made in Ontario by a family of leather craftsmen who’ve been making handbags for over 80 years, the bags range in price from $599 to $1400. They’re available in 5 styles: Classic, Hobo, Market Tote, Mini and The Soho, and each style is available in reclaimed mink, coyote, fox, sheared beaver, and Tibetan lamb. Ganzhorn also welcomes custom-orders, and will gladly turn your own fur coat into a handbag in just 2 to 4 weeks. She also suggests that a bag of this nature would make for a great keepsake from grandma’s, mom’s, or auntie’s old fur coat. I figure that kind of sentimentality in fashion never goes out of style.
For more information visit www.minkhandbags.ca