The faces behind Tusk Handbag

Diana Lee (Founder of AsianinNY.com) and I recently met with luxury leather handbag and accessories company Tusk Founder and Creative Director Hiten Manseta and designer Michelle Chang at their flagship Chelsea store. Hiten shared with us the story behind Tusk and Michelle talked about this season’s inspiration.

Hiten, who is from Bombay, India founded Tusk about 20 years ago in New York City.  He had tried his hand at a few different businesses, which did not succeed.  His luck changed when he decided to sell handbags from India.  Although he didn’t make any sales initially, he slowly began receiving orders, and his business blossomed.  However, Hiten didn’t just want to sell product without creating a global brand. He asked his friends to help him come up with the name. He did not want an American name nor did he want to use his name, because at that time India didn’t have the image it has today.  He wanted an easy to remember name that was global in nature, but not necessarily ethnic Indian.  One of his friends came up with Tusk, and in Hiten’s mind, this was perfect because Tusk was broad, and could mean an African Elephant or an Indian elephant. Tusk could also be applied to different product categories and would be perfect for perfume, jewelry, clothing, or a restaurant. Another friend came up with the stylized logo.

Hiten then met designer Michelle Chang, from Taiwan, who was introduced to him through a business friend, a leather agent.  Michelle tries to keep in mind the heritage of Tusk and uses a lot of Indian inspiration with a modern American twist when designing Tusk handbags.  She’s also inspired by jewelry, which is apparent in the hardware.  She attends trade show to see trends and makes visits to India.  This season’s inspiration was a more rugged urban look.  She really wanted let customers see the natural grain of the leather, so there’s a lot of beautiful texture in the leathers.  Next season, Michelle would like to use more Indian inspired fabrics. The talented Michelle also is planning to develop her own jewelry line!

Tusk does not just want to be trendy or just some flavor of the month.  Their designs are beautiful, unique, and functional.  The bags are lined with a bright purple lining with an attached card holder and key chain.  The Tusk customer is not just following a brand, they’re looking for something luxurious and different and Tusk handbag certainly delivers with integrity!

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