Rarely do we hear about contentious news in the handbag realm, but last week news broke that bag designer Nancy Gonzalez was accused of smuggling exotic bags to the US by passing them off as gifts. Gonzalez was arrested in her hometown of Cali, Colombia, and could face extradition to the US on the charges.
Nancy Gonzalez was one of the first designers we pulled a sample from (meaning we talked to the PR team and were loaned a bag to photograph and review). I’ve always liked the brand, her bags were easy to spot as inherently Nancy Gonzalez and she had a stronghold in the designer bag realm offering beautiful exotics. Many will remember various celebrities spotted carrying her bags as well as placements in major films such as ‘Sex and the City’.
What exactly happened?
The majority of Nancy Gonzalez bags are crafted from crocodile skin and though the sale of this exotic skin is legal, it does require a certificate which can be costly. The investigation dates back to 2016 when the Department of Justice began to look into Gonzalez’s operations.
Then in 2019, two investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shared with the Associated Press that they believed people were used to transport up to 4 handbags each in their personal luggage. These travelers were instructed to say the bags were gifts for their relatives, if customs questioned them. The round-trip tickets were purchased for each passenger by Gonzalez.
What sentence is Gonzalez facing?
The most recent update comes as a joint effort between the U.S. and Colombian authorities to extradite the designer. Gonzalez has been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges of illegal smuggling and conspiracy.
If convicted of these crimes, Gonzalez faces a maximum total sentence of 25 years in prison and $1 million in fines, according to the indictment.
Though at the time of this news Nancy Gonzalez is not at the top of her favor of popularity in the fashion scene, this isn’t being covered as widely as I imagined it would be. In fact, Nancy Gonzalez’s bags are still on major retailer sites including Neiman Marcus at the time this article was published.