Effortless Wares

Hilla Toledano masters the art of subtlety with her line of leather accessories.

In her studio, mere steps from Tel Aviv’s famed Carmel Market, Hilla Toledano can’t sit still. In quick movements, she darts from behind her Mac desktop to the wall where her wares are thoughtfully displayed by style, and back again. Dainty and classically beautiful with olive skin, the only thing slight about Hilla, is her appearance. Toledano shimmies off her metal stool to show me large swathes of textured leather she ideates herself, in molten brown, honey, teal and vanilla, a mix of the season’s new colors and her brand’s signature hues. “Sometimes I’ll send a picture of a lizard to our manufacturer in Italy and tell them to send us material with that exact pattern and with a specific thickness,” she explains. To ensure the quality of the leather remains consistent, the brand works with a father and son manufacturing duo in Italy. 

The 34-year old autodidact, is originally from Tzoran, “the countryside,” as Toledano describes it, an inland town near Netanya. Her first stint with the craft was at a leather shop where she apprenticed once a week. With a newfound skill set, she naturally began making bags for herself and for friends. At 21, Toledano traveled throughout Argentina, spending a significant amount of time riding horses. Exposed to Argentinian leather craftsmanship, Toledano was hooked, and knew she was going to pursue the art form as a career. Particularly drawn to the horse shoe shape, Toledano explains that Kabbalistically, the vessel-like shape represents prosperity. Even before her line was born, the designer had a logo. 

Inspired by Hunting Season, Bottega Veneta, Old Celine and a handmade approach to craftsmanship, Toledano’s line of affordable luxury is elegant with a contemporary edge. The gold embellishments, consistent in all of her pieces, are thoughtfully placed, so as not to overpower the accessory. Fall 2019 will introduce two new lines, one, tailored to a more mature clientele highlighted by structured frames is a limited edition collection featuring vintage hardware. The second is  a functional and fashion forward collection of bright belt bags to be worn either slung around the hips or as a cross body bag, oversized clutches and matching headbands. 

Toledano’s brand has evolved in time with her own aesthetic development. “My needs are reflected in my designs. An everyday bag for a 19-year old will look very different than, say, a bag that a 26 year-old would feel comfortable wearing.” The 10-year old brand is rooted in design first and foremost, comfort and practicality coming in a close second. “Our tote bags don’t have the typical zipper as a closure. I put a simple hook to cinch the opening and add a leather key ring inside the bag for accessibility,” says Toledano. 

Toledano loves when customers visit her studio. “I can immediately feel what style and color suits their look and personality. I encourage my clients to wear the shoulder bags slightly higher than you’d expect. It adds a dash of attitude into a classic frame.”

On carrying the right bag: “When you wear a Toledano piece, which looks and feels expensive, you can wear your boyfriend’s T-shirt and a pair of old jeans and look effortlessly chic. With the right statement accessory, you can forget about your makeup and just relax.”

Photos by Rotem Lebel and Dudy Dayan.

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