17 February 2014

My junior year of college, I bought a canvas tote bag printed with pomegranates from a company called Ann Judge. (Sadly, I don’t think they exist anymore!) For the last six years, I’ve used it to carry my things to and from school and then work every day (including my laptop and planner). It’s been thrown in cars, toted to the beach, and tucked under countless airplane seats. If we were doing a cost-per-wear analysis on this piece, it would be in the pennies. Naturally, it’s showing its age, but I love it so much that it never occurred to me to replace it until I noticed that the previously threadbare corners had become holes.


Since that’s actually a problem, I’ve been reluctantly looking into a replacement. Reluctantly, that is, until I found Cuyana. I don’t think there’s ever been a company that has so immediately and completely resonated with me, and I know that many of y’all will feel the same way. From their website:

We believe in both beauty and intentional buying. We love the joy of finding treasures and the pride of spending wisely. Cuyana means “to love” in Quechua, a language of the Andean regions of South America, and every piece we design is imbued with our love for quality, timelessness, and beauty. We want to love every item in our closets. We want to revel in the tactile beauty of the world’s finest materials and marvel at consummate craftsmanship. We believe in style, not fashion; in quality, not quantity. We celebrate fewer, better things and strive to live a life of inspired simplicity.

WOW! Isn’t that amazing? I just love it so, so much, and feel like it applies to so much more than just clothes or accessories.


If you’re interested, here’s a little video from their site that explains their mission in more detail:

The Cuyana Story from Cuyana on Vimeo.

Cuyana is based in San Francisco, but they travel around the world to find and match the best craftsmen and materials (the same ones luxury brands use!) with each product. Because they’ve consolidated their production in one country and sell directly to consumers, they can offer pieces at a much lower cost.


I was not surprised to see that Jamie, someone I consider to have perfectly classic style and excellent taste, carries a Cuyana tote. (That’s her husband’s overnight bag, which I also love!)


I found this gal while Googling, and she looks pretty stylish, too!

I’m pretty set on the tote in caramel, but I’d love your opinion on two details:

Tall or short? I think the tall is more similar to the shape of my current bag, but I like the look of the short.
Foil stamping? Since I don’t particularly love my initials (EAT, yikes) or monogram (ETA), I’m considering “T” or “EM.”

What do you think?

Affiliate links are used in this post!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
February 17, 2014 8:56 am

I think this is the company I’ve been looking for my whole life. Thank you so much for sharing! I am elated to find a company that operates in the same way I do!

February 17, 2014 9:39 am

Love these pieces! What a great addition this will be. Can’t beat quality. I am torn on the long v. short debate too but I think foil stamping is a must and you should do “EM” :)

February 17, 2014 9:57 am

Ooh I love this tote! I’ve also been looking for one recently since I just bought a really cute Kate Spade bag but it’s not big enough for travel or carrying my laptop. These totes look super cute at a good price! I’m partial to the short and I definitely love the “EM” foil stamping!

February 17, 2014 12:41 pm

Thanks for the tip! I love their mission for a lean closet.

I got a similar tote from Baggu last year. I love Baggu – and their leather totes are made in NYC. I actually got one they do not seem to have on the site anymore, but it was a more wider shape but similar make to this: I opted for the wider more horizontal shape since I am short and wanted the room without having it sit as low on my body. I can carry my 15″ laptop and still have plenty of room for other odds and ends depending on the occasion. I LOVE it. Leather lasts for years and years – so I am hoping it’s a worthwhile investment!

February 17, 2014 1:14 pm

I love a good tote! And for such a quality product, their prices are more than reasonable. I had been looking at a similar product from Madewell, but I might have to rethink that. And I would definitely go with EM!

February 17, 2014 2:43 pm

Oh, I love these! I just got a Longchamp and love it, but I think I’d like one of these, too! I love the color you have chosen….I’m torn on the size. Initially I thought I’d choose the short, but the measurements are just 1″ different. If you’re going to personalize it, I’d go for EM. Thanks for sharing!

February 17, 2014 2:46 pm

These bags and the accompanying mission behind the brand are wonderful! I am so glad that you shared this because I have been in the market for a leather tote for a while too, as they are so timeless and versatile.

I personally prefer the look of the short tote, but both are adorable! As for the foil stamping, I think “EM” would be darling!

Mattye W
February 17, 2014 11:44 pm

I vote for the “EM” foil stamping all the way!
It’s perfect and adorable!

February 18, 2014 12:19 am

Go with Em!

February 18, 2014 4:55 am

Love that motto “fewer, better things”. One to live by. Thank you for sharing x

February 18, 2014 8:03 am

I spent longer than I care to admit clicking around their site–love the Lean Closet Movement posts! Although I’m sad to hear that your pomegranate bag is nearing the end of its days, I love the short tote stamped with EM for you :)

February 18, 2014 12:31 pm

I’m so happy you’re going with the Cuyana tote! I definitely think tall and EM is perfect. I love the straight monogram. The gold is perfect.

February 18, 2014 8:46 pm

Thanks for sharing, I am in need of a new bag and this is perfect!

February 18, 2014 11:21 pm

Cuyana is so drool worthy! I’ve been admiring their bags for the longest time and just love them! The long one is like my dream bag…however the shorter one is probably a bit more practical because it wouldn’t pull as much on the shoulder? EM is such a cute idea (EAT always makes me laugh;-)

February 19, 2014 8:56 pm

very cute!

February 20, 2014 12:08 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this site! I have had a leather bag on my wish list for years and have been considering them more and more. The short one is definitely one of my top choices when the time comes! I love the foil lettering, and I would go with just T!

February 25, 2014 8:52 am

Oooh – these are just so beautiful! Adding to my “someday” wishlist! XO

March 14, 2014 7:31 pm

I love those bags! I found This one at Banana Republic and thought of this post.

June 17, 2014 4:21 pm

I love this tote. The short is very popular and I particularly love. But I got it in the tall stone color because I already have the Madewell Transport tote in the short size. I would get it in gold monogram. It will stand out no matter what color you get. As far as those who are on the fence with the Madewell Transport tote and this, I own both and thought they are identical in pictures but are not. In size yes if you like the short one but in texture very different. Cuyana leather is from Argentina and is smooth, pebbley w/ no imperfections like a high end bag. Madewell totes are from China. If you desire the rugged look with imperfections (swirls, slight lines, variations in texture color)that will eventually have a patina to it, go for the Madewell. Cuyana is less maintenance on leather since it’s smooth, not easily scratched but the Transport is opposite and more maintenance w/ an oil based conditioner wax finish as recommended. Hope this helps someone who may be on the fence which to purchase. I love them both equally for their differences.

April 1, 2016 7:30 pm

Hope someone sees this. What is the bag sitting on the chair? The color is not caramel, more of an English Saddle. And looks like one of the taller totes. Can someone please let me know. I love that color!