SJW bags is the London-based luxury handbag label launched by Alev Ozturk in 2016, offering a colourful range of unique, practical designs with maximum wearability and style.
About Alev Originally a banker with over 25 years of experience, Alev found a new career in design by happy accident. Relocating with her family from her native Istanbul to the leafy environs of St John’s Wood, she decorated her new home with the stunning ikat patterns, to great admiration from friends and neighbours enthralled by the exotic designs. When the delicate silk cushions were accidentally faded by an enthusiastic cleaner, Alev hit upon the idea to replace them by creating some of her own, sourcing fabrics hand-crafted by skilled artisans in the Fergana Valley. Supported in this endeavour by the friendly local community, an exciting new career was born. Then, on finding a particularly beautiful ikat fabric too narrow for cushion making, it sparked the inspiration for the next chapter of creativity – handbags. From the first successful designs, high demand has seen the SJW bags collection grow to offer a wide variety of multi-functional styles and shapes, with a series of pop-ups and an online store bringing SJW bags to a wider audience across the world.
A Brand Is Born Celebrating the diverse and stylish area that had so warmly welcomed Alev’s family to London, the SJW label was named after St John’s Wood, a small and stylish enclave of North London that is home to a huge number of expats from all over the world. Amongst this melting pot of different traditions and influences Alev was inspired to create something for the busy and stylish expats, mums on the school run, and business women she encountered every day in the multicultural area; who embraced new ideas and were the first to champion and encourage her in her new career. In recognition of their support, and the role the area played in inspiring the brand’s colourful and practical designs, every piece in the collection is named in homage to the different people and places of Westminster North.
Joining A Retail Revolution Eschewing the standard bricks and mortar approach, Alev chose to pursue the growing retail trend for increased flexibility and independence offered by the pop-up store format. Delivering fantastic locations and direct interaction between creator and customer, Alev recognised it was the ideal model for a small business to thrive and survive in an ever-changing retail landscape. Boasting a strong community driven ethos, encouraging and empowering women in business while promoting more conscious consumerism, pop-ups have been instrumental in building the SJW bags brand.