Tag Archives: Made in Canada

Where to Eat, Drink and Shop a Local’s Travel Tips for a Toronto Weekend

Christine VonBun is originally from Vienna, Austria, where she earned a degree in Fashion Design and a Certification as a Master-Craftsman in Handbag Design. Christine started this intense apprenticeship program at the age of 14. Her creative passion took her to South Africa to work with Cape Cobra one of the world’s top manufacturers of luxury, exotic-leather handbags.

For some years now, Toronto has been Christine VonBun’s home. She tells us that they enjoy the accessibility of Ontario’s wilderness canoeing the “HMS Edelweiss” in Algonquin Park. Read more about this creator of exotic leather handbags here.

Ontario lakes Toronto night skyline Wine Country Downtown Shopping #DiscoverON @OntarioTravel

When you are working on a Christine VonBun handbag who do you envision will be wearing it?

 

I design for women who appreciate something beautiful and who can recognise and understand the details inherent to fine craftsmanship, they value that something is made specifically for them, by hand, in Canada. My designs and leathers take into account that VonBun bags are intended to be worn for many years, through flash trends, even passed down to the next generation. I will always limit the number of bags so that the wearer can feel unique, a fashion leader, not a follower.

Lola Red Patent Leather Handbag @ChristineVonBun

If a customer just bought an ostrich leather handbag and asked you how they might spend a weekend in Toronto what would you recommend?

 

Coffee:

The Mad Bean is my favourite – run by a father and son team they make the best Americano in Toronto.

The Mad Bean
519 Eglinton Ave W
Toronto, Ontario M5N 1B1
Tel: 647-235-2456

TORONTO, ON_Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre_SUP #DiscoverON @OntarioTravel Photograph by Goh Iromoto

Breakfast:

I love the quick, easy and informal Mars Diner, but there are so many places at in the Beaches it would be unfair to choose only one. After Breakfast take a stroll along the boardwalk.

Mars Beach Diner
1987 Queen Street East
Toronto, Ontario M4l 1J1
Tel: 416-690-6906

#DiscoverON @OntarioTravel

Lunch:

On a beautiful day, the roof patio of Hemingway’s in the heart of Yorkville is unbeatable. A great spot for people watching and their tasty lunch menu.

Hemingway’s
142 Cumberland St,
Toronto, Ontario M5R 1A8
Tel: 416-968-2828

Dinner:

Try one of the cultural pockets in the city. I love spending an evening in little Italy or on the Danforth (Greek Town) to walk around, check out the local delicatessen stores and find the perfect spot for dinner. I find Toronto is unique that way with the cultural, ethnic neighbourhoods.

Lake Ontario #DiscoverON @OntarioTravel

Shopping:

Queen Street West retail is a must. However,  go west of Bathurst Street to find all the independent stores.

Iconic Toronto – Don’t miss this!:

Summer or any season, you have to take the ferry to Toronto Island, not only will you get the best picture of the city line it is just a magical place. Insider tip – go to Ward Island and walk from there!

Toronto Night Skyline Ontario lakes Toronto night skyline Wine Country Downtown Shopping #DiscoverON @OntarioTravel

Where the local’s go to spot: 

Canoe cocktail lounge for the panoramic view of downtown and Lake Ontario.

Canoe Restaurant
66 Wellington St. W,
TD Bank Tower, 54th Floor
Toronto, Ontario, M5K 1H6
(416) 364-0054

Sleep here:

The Drake Hotel and make sure you enjoy a cocktail before you go to bed!

The Drake Hotel
1150 Queen Street West
Toronto,Ontario
Tel: 416-531-5042

Image credits: All Ontario photos provided by and published with the permission of Travel Ontario.

Do it Yourself Handcrafted Designer Leather Handbag

We asked Toronto designer Christine Vonbun to explain what it takes to make one of her luxury handbags. She is clear that top-quality leather and access to the right tools and machinery are essential to the production of her purses.

Handcrafting Leather Bags

Vonbun uses a walking-foot sewing machine designed for leather. Each stage of production requires a selection of hand tools; including traditional double-facetted knives for cutting and specialised skiving knives for thinning the leather at the ends. Vonbun uses a fishbone knife for turning the leather edges, along with a variety of pliers, hammers, small screwdrivers and chisels.

Each handbag requires some glueing, which means different adhesives for separate parts of the process.

The most important piece for hand working is a large soft flat stone, according to Vonbun it must be a fine sandstone – her’s came from her Master in Vienna.

So, what are the steps to handcraft a designer handbag?

1. Leather selection

Red Ostrich Leather used for designer handbags

2. Cutting the leather

Cutting the template for a red ostrich leather handbag

3. Thinning the edges
4. Gluing sections

Gluing straps for red ostrich leather handbag Gluing pieces for red ostrich leather handbag

5. Stitching pieces

Hand stitching red ostrich leather handbag

6. Joining parts together

Red ostrich leather bag is starting to take shape

7. Creating the liner and adding fasteners

Preparing the interior details for a deigner ostrich leather bag

8. Inserting the liner and top stitching the two pieces together

Inserting the suede liner into ostrich leather bag

9. Adding straps

Adding the shoulder strap to red ostrich leather handbag

10. Final Product

Finished product Adele red ostrich leather handbag

And, if you work on one ostrich leather bag at a time that process might take 12 hours. Are you still considering a DIY project of making your own handbag? Maybe you should shop designer fashion instead!

Take a look at Christine’s full collection here.

Adie Collection Leather shoulder handbag designed by @ChristineVonBun

 

Exclusive, Luxury Italian Leather Handbags the Morris B Collection

Christine Vonbun handbags designs are timeless, fabricated in striking leather colours these bags are intended to be accessories you will enjoy every day and continue to wear for a long time.

Bella Italian leather handbag in black @ChristineVonBun

Vonbun has this to say about her Morris B Collection, “I want to create user-friendly on-trend bags which work for the wearer from day to night. Uncomplicated, stylish with a twist of fun.”

Based in Toronto, Ontario designer Christine Vonbun only sources leather for her handbag creations from reputable merchants; Klein Karoo Leather (for ostrich) and an importer who sources directly from a selection of reputable Italian tanneries. Working with the same suppliers for years and she refuses to compromise on quality.

Adie Italian Leather handbag in taupe and denim blue

After attaining her Master Craftsman certification from Modeschule Hetzendorf, a dedicated fashion school in Vienna, Austria, Vonbun moved to South Africa. While in Cape Town, she worked at Cape Cobra Leathercraft a premium manufacturer of luxury leather handbags, where quality control is essential. You can read her full backstory here.

Soft ostrich leather remains her preferred handbag material for its durability, interesting texture. “It is also the only exotic leather that gets more beautiful the more you wear it, the leather absorbs the oil from your skin and the textured quill areas get shiny and wonderfully soft.”

Bella Italian leather handbag in taupe @ChristineVonBun

However, Vonbun readily admits that fine Italian leather also produces beautiful results at a more approachable price point, which is why she has launched her Morris B Collection. To handcraft a purse using high-quality Italian leather requires significantly less production time (< 50%), as compared to an ostrich leather bag; where cutting, and matching the quill pattern requires patience and extraordinary skill.

Adie Red Leather shoulder handbag designed by @ChristineVonBun

The Christine Vonbun Morris B Collection is an Atelier Boutiques exclusive. Handcrafted with the same attention to detail Vonbun has created these gorgeous designer handbags at affordable prices.

The Adie purse is exactly like the ostrich leather version (Adele). This shoulder bag is large enough to carry all you need, without being bulky. Lined in gold fabric this purse has two interior pockets and a magnet closure for security. Available in four Italian leather colours: red, taupe, denim blue and black.

Adie Collection Leather shoulder handbag designed by @ChristineVonBun

“Sophie” is available in black and red Italian leather. This pouch-style handbag is both playful and practical with its roomy interior. The drawstring closure also acts as the carry handles, and the shoulder strap is detachable. The Sophie bag might just become your best girlfriend.

 

Sophie handbag in black leather by designer @ChristineVonBunSophie handbag in red leather by designer @ChristineVonBun

Soft and curvy Bella is a stylish bag with a top zip closure. This tiny purse is the perfect companion for running errands and for keeping the essentials (keys, smartphone, credit cards, lipstick) safe. Bella is the accessory that you need for that lunch out with friends or an after-work cocktail. Available in four colours deep red , taupe, tan and black.

Bella Italian leather handbag in red and taupe @ChristineVonBun

Explore the full Christine Vonbun Collection.

Learn About Exotic Leather Handbags by Christine VonBun

Toronto Canada’s biggest city, comes with all the trappings and frenetic pace of a metropolis. Finding and creating beauty can become obscure. However, we discovered designer Christine VonBun who handcrafts exotic leather handbags in her Toronto workshop. Discover her artistic inspiration and backstory here:

What brought Christine VonBun to Toronto?

When I made my decision to leave South Africa, I set my sights on a country with vast open space. The options were limited. My tennis partner spent eight years in Canada and loved it. Toronto was the obvious choice if I wanted to stay in my field with the benefits of a larger city. I never regretted that decision. We live three hours from Algonquin Park and try to get out with our beloved canoe (we name her HMS Edelweiss) as often as we can.

Christine VonBun fabricates a collection of handcrafted leather handbags in Toronto. Her interest in fashion started on a miniature scale sewing clothes for her dolls. Christine’s youthful pastime led to her educational choice, a dedicated fashion school in Vienna, Austria, called Modeschule Hetzendorf in a baroque castle.

Nadia clutch @ChristineVonBun

The school’s applicants must pass an entry exam to test their artistic and creative abilities. Christine began the intense five-year program at the age of 14. Many students were in their early twenties and the class size was limited to 24 people. The first two years centred around art, colour development and artistic education along with traditional high school courses. In the program’s third year, you are required to select a speciality. Christine chose leather and began working on handbags, belts and wallets.

After three years at Modeschule Hetzendorf, Christine received a journeyman’s certificate in handbag design and manufacture along with a degree in graphic and fashion illustration. However, her goal was to achieve her master craftsman certification, which in Austria legally allows you to open a store and workshop in your field. Christine VonBun was clearly dedicated; she had to work as an apprentice before applying for the elite track, which then required more specialised design and handcrafted work along with business related courses.

What was the final step?

“A technical two-day exam where you have to manufacture a prescribed handbag in a Master’s workshop – while they watch you doing it.”

Master craftsman Christine VonBun moved from Austria to Cape Town where she honed her skills working for Cape Cobra Leathercraft a manufacturer of luxury leather handbags made with exotic leathers.

How does Christine VonBun describes her exotic leather handbag collection?

I use my favourite leather (ostrich) as the basis of my collection. What I do now is a limited collection, all the bags have a similar identity.  Most of my bags include some interesting detail or complicated aspect of construction you won’t see elsewhere. I am trying to let my craftsmanship speak for itself to set my bags apart from others. My line now is all about elite craftsmanship, exclusive materials and timeless elegance.

Christine VonBun

What inspires your design work?

I love to travel, and I love architecture, especially modern architecture and art deco. My inspiration is something out of the ordinary; such as a building or a structure in a European city or even a small town, sometimes it’s the picture-perfect rock formation somewhere in the Canadian Wilderness. These things inspire me to create.

Can you explain how ostrich leather is different from other materials?

I fell in love with ostrich leather while working in South Africa. The leather is really in its own category with its unique texture and softness. Due to a natural tanning process, ostrich is the only exotic leather that gets more beautiful the more you wear it. The ostrich leather absorbs the oil from your skin and the textured quill areas get shiny and wonderfully soft. I have been wearing my denim blue Adele bag for over eight years, and it is still beautiful, I wouldn’t trade it for a new bag. Ostrich is often mistakenly referred to as endangered, and nothing could be further from the truth. There are now many ostrich farms and leather sources, but I use only Klein Karoo ostrich, they are the world leader for ostrich product. I won’t compromise on leather quality.

Adele Ostrich Shoulder bag @ChristineVonBun

What tools do you need for your work?

The primary machines are a particular walking foot leather sewing machine and a skiving machine for thinning the edges. When it comes to hand tools, I have a selection of double-facetted hand-knives for cutting, and specialised skiving knives for thinning the leather edges. I need a fishbone knife for turning the edges. There are also a variety of pliers and hammers, and a good assortment of small screwdrivers, chisels and some glue pots. I use different adhesives for separate parts of the process. The most important piece for hand working is a large soft flat stone. I got mine from my old Master in Vienna. These fine sandstones are not easy to come by – most come from European churches when they renovate.

Gloria #ShoulderBag #Leather @ChristineVonBun

How long does it take to make a bag like Gloria or Lola from start to finish?

The biggest factor in making a bag is that there are many individual steps. You are much more efficient when making multiples of the same style. On top of this, ostrich compared to a flat leather adds at least 50% additional time. Ostrich skin is a premium leather, the quill pattern complicates how you cut, you want to maximise every square inch. Ostrich also has the added difficulty of a very time-consuming preparation procedure order to start the assembly.

Lola Red Patent Leather Handbag @ChristineVonBun

To answer your question more precisely, if I make the Lola in patent leather, and I make more than one at a time, I could get away with about four to five hours per bag. If I make multiple Lolas in ostrich, I am likely to spend eight hours per handbag. However, a single bag could take 12 hours. With that effort to produce a single purse, it’s easy to understand why these handbags are limited pieces. View the Christine VonBun creator page and order your signature leather handbag today!