YOUBAG is an innovative luxury leather manufacturer founded by designer Alessandra (Aly) Shea Elkins and leather connoisseur Bernd Michael Ostwald.
As a business, we have one goal – to give you the power and freedom to design and customize your own high-end leather bags and accessories. We stand for individuality. We stand for creativity. We stand for affordable luxury.
We want to be a part of the move away from serial production. It’s time to think differently and shift the focus of fashion to the individual. That’s where you come in.
YOUBAG means you can be free in your choices and expression. Craft something that speaks for you, something that no one else has, something that is raw, real, fresh and fun.
We want you to be free to DO YOU.
“These days, there seems to be a struggle with constant comparison. Social media gives us an inside look on the lives of others, and so this can affect how we think our own lives should look. Mass production, repetition and imitation is seen everywhere. I think we need to start concentrating on the individual. We need to embrace the fact that we are different from each other. A handmade product gives us the chance to represent ourselves, as an individual and not as a brand. It lets us show off our personality and our rawness. It gives the product a personal touch, which is worth more than anything mass produced.”
YOUBAG was conceptualised and brought to life by Bernd Michael Ostwald and Alessandra Shea Elkins. It marks the coming together of a century-long family legacy of leather craftsmanship, and over a decade of design experience.
Their internet-based business, operating worldwide and using leading-edge technology, means that the pair have crafted for themselves the perfect platform to realise their goal – to give people the chance to create their very own products by taking over the role of designer.
A move away from the high streets and shopping malls means you don’t have to spend a huge amount of money on a product that exists in multitudes, and you don’t have to pay for a connection to a brand.
YOUBAG offers you the chance to create and own something that only you have.
Aly, the designer behind YOUBAG, resides between Munich, Miami and Cape Town. Aly ﬁnds her inspiration in her world travels and in nature. She has gained experience working with multiple fashion brands like Tom Binns and founding her own high-end leather handbag brand, Aly Shea.
“After studying design in Berlin, I founded Aly Shea and kept designing new styles every season. I would say, even after all the business and marketing experience I gained over the past years, designing is still what I love most and do best.”
Her working relationship with Bernd began in 2015 with the launch of her brand. Aly was looking for a manufacturer, and was told his is one of the best there is. In Bernd she found someone with an unmatched knowledge of leather, and an aligned vision to her own.
“In 2017, we came up with the idea behind YOUBAG – giving people the chance to design and create their own luxury leather products. Since then, Bernd and I have been amazing team players and he has taught me everything to know about leather and craftsmanship!”
Bernd, the leather connoisseur and guru of YOUBAG, grew up in a traditional and family-owned manufactory for leather. Since the 1920s, leather was treated by hand in the “Oberfränkische Schäfte – und Schuhfabrik” of his grandfather, Bernhard Josef Ostwald. The name has been around for three generations – three generations of processing leather.
“The goal for me was to create something that started off as only an idea and make it come alive. Since my childhood, I have been surrounded by leather and craftsmanship through the family business. It all started with my grandfather, Bernhard Ostwald, who manufactured high-quality shoes and accessories. Growing up with a passion for fine leather and being surrounded by great craftsmanship made me what I am today.”
In the early 2000s, Bernd managed to open a new manufacture in Belgrade. Artisans that had been in the craftsmanship business for many years, and also some newbies to the industry, were happy and eager to learn more and join the family in Belgrade. Today, they have the perfect mix of traditional craftsmanship and modern creativity.
“This YOUBAG journey we’re on has allowed me to distance myself from mass production and concentrate completely on individualisation. And of course the fact that I met Aly who’s energy was just what YOUBAG needed.”
Our manufacture guarantees leather craftsmanship of the highest standards.
We have 40 artisans that have long term experience in luxury craftsmanship, working together to create high-quality luxury leather products and bring our customers’ visions to life. The family company in its third generation focuses on the essential: to create independent products of value, backed by a true passion for leather and by the love of grown craftsmanship.
Our incredible group of artisans in our traditional manufacture all believe that craftsmanship is a life task that has to be mastered and is passed on through decades of experience. Good craftsmanship must grow over time.
All bags and accessories are designed in house in our company’s own studios and hand made in our workshops from top quality tanned leathers. We work with European rawhide from established tanneries in Italy. Every step is carried out by hand. Each YOUBAG creation is a unique work-of-art with a lot of passion for perfection.
Our manufacture is very different from others in that we do not work with serial production. Serial production is where one artisan only has one task to fulfil and continuously repeats that task only. Our artisans are all able to finish one entire leather product from start to finish. This way every artisan brings their own hand signature. We call this SLOW FASHION with sustainability.
YOUBAG is where traditional craftsmanship meets the modern spirit.
With the newest techniques and best teams behind us, we have developed an amazing 3D conﬁgurator that allows the customer to design their bags from start to ﬁnish. From leather structure to colors of leather, stitching and interior, all the way to monograming.
The 3D configurator is easy-to-use, fast working and displays our customer’s creation in the highest display quality, on mobile phones, tablets and desktops.
We would love for each and every customer to have fun on our website and embrace the colors of their own personality.