I may be a bit of a philistine when it comes to fashion. And I may know nothing about handbags apart from a basic understanding of the global appeal of Louis Vuitton because the brand is synonymous with the “ultra-luxe ocean lifestyle” I often find myself immersed in. And, I’m not surprised (or offended) when my authority to identify the “The Most Exclusive Handbag In The World,” is questioned by some of the best fashion-bloggers in the world. Because none of that matters.
The simple truth is nothing is more special, more rare, or most importantly…no other handbag is made with more warmth, fellowship, and love than the hand stitched canvas bags that are made in the Norman Albury Sail Shop on a tiny Man-O-War Cay in the Bahamas.
The bags are special because each is hand stitched. They’re special because you can only buy a bag if you can get a ride on a boat out to the shop Man-O-War Cay (there’s no website and no other transportation!). And they’re special because the timeless logo that’s stitched into every bag will only be recognized by others who have been lucky enough to enjoy quality time in that special part of the planet. And most of all, Albury Sail Bags are special because there is no one quite like Annie Albury.
She’s the third generation Albury that’s been operating the sail shop on the island for over 60 years and she’s been making bags in their current harbor front location, just like her grandmother did when she started sewing bags from the leftover canvas that was originally used to make sails, since the late 1980’s. She’s a legend in the Bahamas and she was there, at her vintage sewing machine with her friends, when I was lucky enough to spend some time at Bakers Bay earlier this winter.
As you can see in these photos, her warm smile lit up the room. And she and everyone we met there did more than just make canvas bags. They took time to welcome us. And to answer my questions (her well-used, impeccably-maintained sewing machine is well over 60 years old!). And best of all she reminded us city-slicker-visitors-from-the-mainland the peace and joy that can come from the most simple things—friendship, steady work, humor, connection to nature.
And oh yeah, the bags are amazing. I get compliments everywhere I go. I love sharing a knowing nod with the people who’ve been there when they see my bag. But better still I love telling people who ask me where they can get one. I tell them “Buy a ticket to the Bahamas. Take a boat out to Man-O-War Cay. And then go see Annie.