I’m Iris, designer and founder of studio IRIS MAREE. In 2012 I launched my cruelty free bag brand. Loving animals and fashion, my luxury handbags are made without animals suffering for it.
For as long as I can remember I have always thought animal suffering was horrible. I was a typical child of the 80’s, the era when people became more conscious of all the harmful things we did to animals. As a young girl, I already protested the killing of seals just for their fur. I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that people were actually harming animals just to look good, and I still can’t.
Traveling and my first job
When I was a student I lived in Amsterdam and studied Arts, Culture & Management. I loved
my city but my dream was to travel the world, and so I did. I ended up staying in beautiful Brazil where me and my boyfriend (now husband) set up a beach bar and ran it for a couple of months. Back in Amsterdam, I started working for a company in merchandise articles. My creativity stood out, and in combination with a fresh sense of fashion, I became responsible for product design and the production process. My main customers were international publishing houses, fashion and cosmetic brands.
“I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that people were actually harming animals just to look good, and I still can’t.”
Doing things differently
Being responsible for the production process, I got the chance to travel the world again. Travelling different countries was an amazing experience, but I also got to see the negative side of mass production and the heavy use of leather. This outdated economy where animal suffering is subordinate to fashion, and the exploitation of the earth really worried me. I wanted to do things differently: better. In 2003 I started my own cruelty free marketing and merchandise business. My company quickly grew into a successful business with international clients as VOGUE, ELLE and MARIE CLAIRE. Working closely with brands like Sonia Rykiel and Isabel Marant, I learned the more refined work of designing bags and garments. I realized that I loved designing bags and a seed was planted to start my own brand.
Following my dream: designing luxury bags without harming animals
In 2012 I followed my heart and launched my namesake brand: studio IRIS MAREE. The design of my bags takes place in our studio in the creative centre of Amsterdam. Production and distribution take place in a renowned family-run atelier in Portugal. Pure lines, unique material and striking colours give my designs a strong feminine attitude. In addition to the design and use of colours, studio IRIS MAREE distinguishes itself by only using unique vegan leather to ensure our bags can be used and loved for a long time. Most of the time people don’t even notice that our bags aren’t made of real leather. A real compliment because we proved that it’s possible to create luxury bags without animals suffering for it, and that feels really good!