Image Above: Victoria Chi walks with the iconic Empress handbag in red python leather by VICA Custom. Photo by Olegas Daghool, Styling by Leisel Vella and Make-up by Isreal Cozas Garcias.
Inspired by Victoria Chi and VICA Custom Exotic Custom Leather Accessories
Spoilt for Choice: The perfect bag only exists in your imagination… Or does it?
If you love exotic custom leather accessories you must meet VICA Custom, a luxury precious leather accessories brand which creates exquisite bespoke products. I was both inspired and enamored when I first learned of VICA Custom and of the British label’s founder and creative director Victoria Chi (also known as VICA). Read on for the inspiring story of how she built a successful company from scratch, to feel her passion for her work, and hear what she has to say about exotic leather trade myths!
The Luxury Experience
Two hundred years ago bespoke-made products were among the most exclusive things in the fashion industry. Despite the move toward mass production at the beginning of the 19th-century, today, thanks to artisans and customers who believe in the importance of handmaking, bespoke products are still highly coveted and in demand.
Regardless of the movement toward mass production in luxury fashion, the rapidly growing VICA Custom brand serves its clients only on a custom and made-to-order basis. The brand provides bespoke and custom services from handbags and accessories to unique gifts or anything you can think of. VICA specializes in rare leathers including Crocodile, Python, and Stingray sourced from some of the best tanneries in the world who fulfill globally recognized ecological standards and are certified by CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora).
With over 100 precious leather color options to choose from, literally, you can be spoilt for choice! Victoria herself often travels to different tanneries around the world and carefully selects the highest quality of skins to ensure that the materials she uses to make her custom leather products are of the highest standard. All pieces are made in London and crafted using traditional British hand stitching techniques.
Exotic leather has been highly sought after for hundreds of years due to its incredible durability and beautiful textures. Just like diamonds, it has been in demand for many years and is considered a classic luxury. Owning an exotic custom leather VICA piece is a luxury experience in and of itself!
Victoria Chi started learning about the world of fashion at age 19 when she began studying Fashion & Textiles Design at Middlesex University. VICA was established in 2016, following Victoria’s experience working as a fashion consultant for various high-end fashion brands such as Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Dunhill.
“I loved working at each of those brands because every day I was meeting new and interesting people. But each day was also a learning day that came with new challenges,” remembers Victoria. “I am still very thankful for the opportunity I got to grow and learn about the fashion industry in these roles.”
“The idea to create VICA Custom came while working for one of these brands which offered few products in exotic leathers. During my experience, I came across many customers who would say ‘oh I wish this bag could be different size’ or ‘I wish I could amend the design or color’.” Victoria identified that people had become more conscious about their own appearance and their product choices, how and where the product that they are purchasing has been made, and how exclusive the product design is. VICA also preferred exotic skin bags but had the same issues. “I could not find that perfect one. I always wanted to have something that no one else had. Luckily, I hadn’t forgotten my design skills and dedicated to making a bag for myself.”
After months of designing, research and development, Victoria sourced python leather and finally created her dream custom leather handbag. A bag that was true to her lifestyle, fashion sense, and love for comfort, but most importantly, it was truly unique. “Literally, I was the only one in the whole world owning this handmade python handbag! This is what I call a TRUE LUXURY. Then my work colleagues found out about my new passion, saw the bag and were really impressed by the quality and design. Some even asked me to create a bespoke bag for them. Then I realized that there was a gap in the market for BESPOKE exotic leather goods. If I can help more people to create one-of-a-kind bags, then we all will be living in a much more interesting world.”
“I firmly believe that personal style shouldn’t be dictated by the trendsetters. Our imagination, curiosity and creativity is not a governed decision.” – Victoria Chi
“I couldn’t sleep for weeks because of the excitement! I had a burning desire in my chest to create unique accessories, show them to the world and inspire more people to take the next step to personalize their style. I firmly believe that personal style shouldn’t be dictated by the trendsetters. Our imagination, curiosity, and creativity is not a governed decision,” says the designer.
With only £6000 of her own savings, Victoria left her retail job and set off on a trip to Europe and later Southeast Asia to research custom leather products and exotic skins.
This is how her journey began…
Genuine Love of Work
Victoria’s passion for what she does is so BIG, that it looks more like an addiction. At present, VICA is serving her clients all over the world. The company’s priority is to deliver a 1st class experience for creating a bespoke accessory, tailored to each client’s own specifications and needs. For even more ultimate taste and those who wish a truly unique item, the brand offers a fully made-to-order service where the overall design is created from scratch. VICA also provides a choice of precious metals and stones, such as 24kt gold plated hardware and diamond encrusted embellishments. The only limit to what you can create is your imagination! “My brand has already gained customers trust because they know that I always bring more value than they pay for. Those who understand a true luxury – do appreciate the journey and process of our product creation,” explains the brand’s creative director.
Victoria says that the most interesting part of her job is when people tell her their crazy ideas for what custom leather product they would like created. These items then become insanely special, nobody else has one because they are tailored specifically to the requirements and needs of the individual. “You can be as crazy as you want, as weird as you want, and I love seeing my clients imagination and inspirations coming out from their far-fetched minds.” Providing superior quality is only part of the allure. The brand’s philosophy states that a genuinely luxurious product is the one which is made especially for you. When you can get really connected with a product which is going to be only yours, that is extremely rare, and that has a deep meaning to you, the ideas and possibilities of what you can create are endless and only then – you make memories…
Benefits of the Exotic Leather Industry
There are a lot of rumors and misconceptions about consuming exotic leather goods. Some of the animal-rights groups are totally misleading the public and luxury goods buyers in educating them about how cruel this industry is by making false documentaries and films.
Victoria Chi’s mission is to re-educate the public and tell them how the exotic leather industry provides crucial benefits to the environment and eco-system.
Over the years, the exotic leather industry has played an increasingly important role in conservation, working alongside with biologists and researchers to get the numbers up. First of all, the trade is strictly regulated by CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora), their function is to ensure that every skin has been sourced ethically and legally. So, every item you receive from VICA Custom comes with a CITES certificate.
Moreover, the trade contributes to the wildlife animal population. Many years ago, the crocodilian extinction was at a critical number, but today due to conservation programs around the world the crocodilian and python numbers have dramatically increased and continues to do so by a massive breeding and nesting promoted by the farmers, hunters and the management.
VICA Custom commonly sources high-quality leathers from one of the best farms is in Southeast Asia. “I am very proud to be part of this trade chain because as a client I create a demand, it benefits rural Southeast Asia’s communities as python hunters, farmers are able to support their families with extra income. They have the ability to send kids to school, afford themselves with day to day living expenses and overall improve their livelihoods.”
“Another great factor is that nothing is wasted. Crocodile, python and stingray meat is sold to local butchers and it is considered a delicacy. Crocodile oil and python gallbladders are used for Chinese medicine. And lastly, the leather is sold to fashion houses”, explains Victoria.
At the end of the day, everyone contributes to the growth of these species populations, from the customer demands to anyone involved in this trade. People need to understand that this industry works well with ethical and sustainable matters, rather than against them.
Where to Purchase Your Custom VICA
VICA Custom makes custom leather products for men and women. Those who are looking to own a piece by VICA Custom will not be able to find the brand in an ordinary mall. Its creations are acquired by appointment or on the official website. Visit www.vicacustom.com to learn more!
All Images and Content Courtesy of VICA Custom.
Copy Edits by Anna Bimba