Handbag designer sells leather creations in boutiques worldwide

Originally Published in April 2017

Chylak is a Polish handbag brand founded by designer Zofia Chylak. Her high-quality Italian leather bags and accessories are sold exclusively in 10 shops in Europe, Israel and Taiwan. This year’s collection features python-embossed and crocodile-embossed leather pieces. The limited-edition bags are manufactured in Poland, with great attention to detail. Each item has its own series number hand-stamped in gold. Chylak won the 2015 Polish Elle Style Award for “Brand of the Year.”

As a University of Warsaw student, Chylak didn’t dream about becoming a fashion designer; her original plan was to study art history, gain an educational background and become a cinematographer. She turned to study fashion in her fourth year at university—specifically, fashion from the 15th and 16th centuries, which she found inspiring and admirable. Upon graduation, she headed to New York City to work as an apprentice at the design department at Proenza Schouler. Despite having sewing experience, she was an art history student who had to learn how to keep up with the fast-pace fashion capital of the world. She was offered a job in the city, but she wanted to create her own brand and it was clear to her that to be successful, she needed to go back to Poland where the market is less saturated. She started designing made-to-measure dresses and clothes until she decided to exclusively make handbags and accessories in 2014.

Chylak won the 2015 Polish Elle Style Award for “Brand of the Year.”

As someone who usually wears only black herself, Chylak designed a simple all black collection made from imported genuine Italian leather until she discovered the limitless options that are possible using python-embossed and crocodile-embossed leather. This season she introduced grey python-embossed leather handbags, clutches, wallets, pouches and computer cases in addition to all black python-embossed leather and all black crocodile-embossed pieces. The bestseller is the small bucket bag, a smaller version of the big bucket bag that was added to the collection at the last minute. Chylak said, “It’s not something I thought was going to work. I never know which bag the clients will like the most.” All the pieces in her collection are both elegant and practical, because Chylak designed them for everyday and special occasions.

Chylak said she is proud of her Polish brand and it’s important to her that all the pieces in her collection are produced in Poland. “In the 1990s, Polish brands would call leather products by an Italian name because there was this idea that if it was made outside of Poland, it was better. Now is a time that I don’t feel embarrassed to say it’s made in Poland,” said Chylak. She wanted her bags to be for Polish women and designed them strategically to be affordable by creating patterns that are not complicated for production—keeping costs low without losing quality. In the future, she says she may design two lines: one that is affordable and stylish and one that is more expensive and intricate.