How a Jersey-Based Handbag Designer Honors Her Artisan Roots

Cara Benevenia's luxe leather bags are made in Union City "by skilled people, not machines."

Designer Cara Benevenia uses gold, silver and rose-gold metallic leather from Italy in her Jersey-made handbags. Courtesy of Cara Benevenia

As this fall’s hottest handbag looks embrace metallics and graphic patterns, New Jersey–based designer Cara Benevenia is at the forefront of the trend. Her round Icon bag, pictured above, juxtaposes metallic leather strips of varied widths, tones and finishes in a plaid-like statement bag.

“I’ve always admired the woven look of plaid and enjoy playing with textile manipulation and three-dimensional looks. My focus is to bring fresh styles to market in a cost-effective way,” she says.

Benevenia’s other two mixed-metal designs are the Baguette mini shoulder style, available in espresso brown, cappuccino and black, as well as the best-selling Classic, featured in not-so-basic black leather.

[RELATED: In Union City, an Intuitively Crafted Handbag Line]

The 26-year-old designer grew up in New Providence, attended Villa Walsh Academy in Morristown, and then studied apparel design at Marist College, where an industry panel named her the department’s designer of the year. She later worked as a fabric designer for Zac Posen before launching her business in 2018.

Benevenia’s passion is fueled by her immigrant roots. “My great-grandfather, who was born in Italy, was a men’s tailor on Newark’s Broad Street, so I have a special place in my heart for artisans,” she says.

“Cara Benevenia handbags are made right here in Union City by skilled people, not machines. I’m proud to lift up leather artisans in support of a bigger cause that honors my family’s heritage,” she adds. See more at and follow her on Instagram (@carabenevenia).

Follow our style editor on Instagram (@susanbrierlybush).


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