‘A bag completes an outfit’: Studio Nicholson brings its fuss-free approach to bags

Studio Nicholson’s Nick Wakeman breaks down her debut leather bag collection for the British brand, continuing an obsession with material and craft

Studio Nicholson’s debut bag collection. On left, the Shiboru shoulder bag, on right, Fortuna pleated cross-body bag (available studionicholson.com)
(Image credit: Courtesy of Studio Nicholson)

‘Fuss-free’ is how Nick Wakeman describes Studio Nicholson, the brand she founded in 2010. Known for elegant, oversized silhouettes and considered materials, Studio Nicholson has maintained a steadfast ‘fabric-first’ approach to clothing design in its 14 years. The pieces – encompassing mens- and womenswear – are contemporary-minded yet timeless, designed to live in your wardrobe for years to come.

Now, Studio Nicholson is launching its first collection of leather bags. ’For me, a bag completes an outfit,’ says Wakeman. ‘It changes the silhouette of the look entirely, adding something new in texture and shape.’ The offering features three styles, in supple black and white leathers and light and dark brown suedes. The brand currently has leather shoes, belts, and cotton totes in its roster, and venturing into handbags felt like a ‘natural step’ for Wakeman and the team. ‘That instinct was confirmed when the design and development happened really quickly,’ she explains. ‘Everything just fell into place.’

Studio Nicholson reveals its debut bag collection

Studio Nicholson bag

The roomy Doublet tote in suede

(Image credit: Courtesy of Studio Nicholson)

The collection is concise, yet offers a lot of choice in both the range of materials, and the way the bags are designed to adapt to their wearer’s needs. Put simply, the bags go from big to small: Doublet is a roomy, slouchy tote easily slung over the shoulder, cleverly constructed with only a few seams; Shiboru takes its name from the Japanese word meaning ‘to squeeze’, and is a slightly smaller, more angular take on the tote, with an adjustable strap; and the smallest is Fortuna, a structured, rounded cross-body bag with a similar adjustable length, available in black or white leather.

Echoing Studio Nicholson’s clothing, form and function are equally weighted; the bags are, for example, free of metal hardware. ‘We wanted to highlight the natural form and shape of the bag and let that determine its functionality rather than extra detailing or busyness,’ says Wakeman.

Woman wearing shirt and jeans holding Studio Nicholson suede bag

(Image credit: Courtesy of Studio Nicholson)

‘Our fabric selection is something we never compromise on,’ she continues. ’We chose Italian leathers with two distinctive textures: one a grained Palmellato leather which has the texture of a grapefruit and is super durable as a finish, and the other, an unbelievably soft suede that really emphasises the slouch of the larger bags.’ They are produced in Italy too, in a family-run factory that has been making luxury bags using artisanal methods for over 70 years.

Design inspiration for the tactile bags came in part from Studio Nicholson’s clothing: the fall of an oversized sleeve is playfully recalled in the Doublet tote’s construction, and the Fortuna features a distinctive pleat akin to those found on the brand’s signature wide-leg trousers. ‘From the start, we wanted the bags to be an extension of our ready-to-wear collection. There's a real cohesion, and taking design signals from a sleeve or trouser leg was a playful part of that.’ As such, they slot seamlessly into the Studio Nicholson universe.

Studio Nicholson’s debut bag collection is available from the brand’s website.


White leather bag on balancing on glass box and cube

(Image credit: Courtesy of Studio Nicholson)

Belle Hutton is an arts, culture and fashion writer based in London. Previously the assistant digital editor of AnOther Magazine, she has contributed to titles including i-D, as well as interviewing an array of cultural luminaries, including Nadia Lee Cohen, Jamie Hawkesworth, Vanessa Beecroft, Chitose Abe and Grace Wales Bonner, among others.