April 2012

IMAGE: Appearances Pack Man

MARC MARMEL stealth-wealth leather goods are a stylish antidote to monogram fatigue  by BOOTH MOORE


CAA agent turned designer Marc Marmel came up with the idea for his line of distinctive luggage and carryalls while on vacation in the French Riviera in 2005, after seeing all the precious Louis Vuitton, Goyard and Hermès bags coming off the airport conveyer belt. He decided that even if he had all the money in the world, he’d be nervous about scratching those designer pieces.

With visions of the golden age of travel, of steamer trunks that looked more beautiful as they aged, he conceived his initial six pieces right then, and put his resources toward producing samples in Italy. And Maxfield bought them.

Now a full line of lightweight pieces—lined in funky silk brocades and secured with vintage-inspired hardware, is made in L.A. In addition to the suitcases ($1,300–$1,800), Marmel has expanded to include wallets and iPad cases ($250–$395), day bags ($800–$1,300) and even custom guitar cases ($3,900).

Fear of scuffs is not an issue, as the antique-feel cracked-calfskin leather continues to crease and change as it’s used. “It’s like a fingerprint,” he says. “No two are exactly alike. It’s anti–big luxury and anti-label.”

Russell Brand, David and Victoria Beckham, Cameron Diaz, Reese Witherspoon and the Rolling Stones are all fans, and the fashion world is taking notice. Last year, Marmel won the Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award for accessories, beating out more than 1,000 entrants.

“I want to do the Ferragamo story,” he says, referring to the Italian cobbler who came to Hollywood to work with stars in the 1920s and make it in the luxury-goods business. “I want to be a Southern California–made luxury brand known for quality.” Available at Maxfield and Barneys New York; marcmarmel.com.