Our closets need another handbag like our tack rooms need another snaffle (hint: not at all). Although there is an abundance of brands, collections, styles, and often off-price overstock from which to choose, the investment in another bag seems almost irresponsible. While we at OR will occasionally cave for, say, the much coveted Chloé Nile Bracelet bag, we tend to prefer a bit of originality, and are complete suckers for the euphoria of sustainable fashion.
So when we learned of designer Susan Hoff, who hails from our home state of California and creates oversized carryalls out of retired sailcloth and vintage horse tack, we caved again. First, oversized tote bags are practical: they replace plastic bags at the grocery store; are great for hauling odds and ends around a horse show; and are easy for a blanket and a bottle of chilled wine at the park. Second, Susan’s totes in particular are exceptionally durable. If her reclaimed materials are good enough to withstand the demanding wear and tear of boats and barns, they are good enough for us. Third, we like a conversation piece, so when a product comes with a story — or even better, a history — like Susan’s bags, then we feel compelled to share.
Susan grew up on a Midwestern horse farm, which means she understands the sentimentality of worn and carefully maintained leather. That first ride. That hard-earned ribbon. That October hack as the leaves begin to change color. Add the years she spent as a sailing instructor maneuvering marine canvas along water in the salty air, and a single one of her handmade totes holds the legacy of two very thrilling pastimes. With classic leather riding rein shoulder straps, the canvas base colors range from subtle whites and stripes to stormy gray and sea blue (of course).
The best part? Send her your used sails or tack (or both, if you happen to be that well-rounded) for a bag that is uniquely yours. Of course we think these make super thoughtful holiday gifts for the barn or your equestrian friends, especially when you fill them with apples or carrots (read: wine). You’ll be the most popular person in the center aisle.