One of the recurring comments I have noticed in our editorials and under social media videos is that people are tired of seeing the same designer brands. While spotting a Hermès bag in the wild was once a rarity, now I can easily find handfuls of Hermès bags in a one-hour outing in Miami each visit. Where does this leave a luxury bag lover who wants something different?
This is an opportunity for them to try a different brand. There are a handful (of mostly French) brands that were founded in the 1700s that have been resurrected more recently with long ties to storied pasts. One such brand is Joseph Duclos.
The story of Joseph Duclos dates back to 1754 when King Louis XV signed the Letters Patent in Versailles. This momentous act led to the creation of the Royal Leather Manufacture, which brought together the best craftsmen in France. From this time forward, France’s leather goods have been defined by the expertise that we’ve come to know and expect from luxury brands to this day.
Though originally founded in 1754, there was a long time that the brand was not still in production. However, the Joseph Duclos brand was brought back in 2021 with 7 million Euros of funding from French entrepreneurs and family offices, and creative director Ramesh Nair, formerly of Hermès and Moynat, was enlisted to take the helm.
We have a very active and loyal Joseph Duclos thread on the PurseForum, where fans share their latest purchases and orders (one of the biggest perks of a small luxury house is the ability to place an order specific to your liking).
While we last spoke about the Diane which might be the most well-known shape for the brand, I find myself drawn to the Joseph Duclos Fontélie Bag. This is a bag that speaks to my personal style; it’s elegant in its structure and design, the calfskin is incredibly supple and luxurious, and the hardware clasp is reminiscent of a wax seal. All in all, this is a very beautiful everyday companion.
This bag shows off each aspect the brand does well, from sourcing the Concerto leather itself, which shoes a natural yet not fully uniform grain. The hardware is high-end, and the clasp closes with a magnetic clip that acts like a snap.
You can not remove the shoulder strap, though I would like that offered, but you can adjust it. On the sides, there are snaps at the gussets to change the shape of the bag and taper the top a bit as well.
When you open the bag, you’ll find a clever outer pocket that seamlessly melds into the bag – think of this as a great place for a valet ticket or something else small (it does not fit my phone). The interior is quite spacious, with a back pocket, offset leather colors, and a large open main compartment.
Do you know what else is so important to note?
The smell – the glorious smell of this bag that almost feels like I have sprayed a leather perfume, but in actuality, it simply smells that good, which is a nod back to the leather chosen along with every other detail and artisan that came together to make this bag. It’s that new car smell equivalent that few brands possess, but it lures me in every single time.
I love this bag. I love how the brand listens to its customers, the option to customize a bag for yourself, the quality of the materials used, the storied history of the house, and the fact that this design feels incredibly special and different in what many times feels like a sea of repeated items.