In the Bag

By David ArkinOctober 23, 2023No Comments

In The Bag

By Jenny B. Davis

From Southlake to New York Fashion Week,
these sisters-in-law bring the bling

Roy Rizwan still remembers the day that Simran Kaur walked through the door of his Southlake Town Square boutique, Xar Clothier.

It was August 2016, and Kaur and her husband had just moved to Colleyville with their toddler. Although it was oppressively hot and she was seven months pregnant with her second child, she filled a suitcase with the colorful, intricately detailed clutch bags she was designing with her sister-in-law, Gayatri Chopra, and headed to Southlake. She hoped Rizwan would like the clutches so much that he’d agree to sell them.

He did. And Rizwan says he’s proudly carried the Simitri line ever since.

“When I saw the pieces, I knew she had the talent — she had the color, she had the sequins, she had the embroidery, she had the taste,” Rizwan recalls. “The beauty of this bag is that it’s very clean and classy — it’s a very timeless piece.”

Creating timeless pieces was the goal when Kaur and Chopra became business partners and launched Simitri, based in Colleyville, in 2015. But first, they became family.

“My husband and I were living in Kalamazoo, Michigan, when my brother called me and said, ‘I am dating a designer who makes handbags,’ and I said, ‘Marry her now!’” Kaur recalls with a laugh. “Once he did, I got to know her, and I instantly loved her and loved her style.”

Although Kaur was working a corporate job at the time, she had been obsessed with purses as long as she could remember. Growing up in India, she still remembers coveting the splendid sequined bags her mother carried. Every time she went shopping in Kalamazoo, she would search for handbags, but she was never able to find anything close to the beauty and quality of those in India.

Chopra, who also grew up in India, was a lifelong lover of handbags and accessories as well. She spent her early career in interior product design, mostly in the lighting sector, but when she left her job, a friend asked her to design some handbags for a major fashion show. Chopra was initially hesitant to accept the opportunity because her experience was with metal and wood, but she decided to go for it. She turned out her first collection in less than three weeks and, just like that, she became a handbag designer.

When Chopra married and moved to Philadelphia, however, she left the business behind. That is, until Kaur suggested resuming it — together. They placed a selection of Chopra’s bags on Etsy to test the market in the U.S., and when they quickly sold out, the women knew they were onto something.

They decided to call their new venture Simitri, a mix of their names. But Kaur says the name is also a play on the English word symmetry: “Our bags are whimsical. They’re handmade and covered with different-sized sequins, so they’re the opposite of symmetrical, and we thought that was really cool.”

Today, Simitri is sold wholesale to boutiques across the country, from New York City and Miami to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Dallas-Fort Worth. It’s also available online, through multibrand e-commerce sites and Simitri’s own website. The brand has been carried in two New York Fashion Week shows and also featured on “Good Morning America.” During the pandemic, Simitri began selling headbands, and they became so popular that they are now a permanent part of the line.

Kaur handles the business side of the company, while Chopra focuses on design and production. Twice a year, Chopra travels to India to choose materials — her first (and favorite) destination is always the sequin market — and visit the artisans who handcraft each bag. “There is no mold,” she explains. “Everything is made by hand and sewn by hand.”

Designs change frequently, but Simitri will always be about color and sparkle, the women say. What they will never incorporate, however, is real leather. “We are all animal lovers,” Kaur says. The brand’s most popular styles are those with sequined ombre patterns, a labor intensive process that Kaur says takes over eight hours for each bag. But Chopra is hoping that the newest clutches she’s designed, which are lavished with glittering fringe, will eventually become the brand’s bestsellers.

It’s this spectacular detail that sets Simitri apart, Rizwan says. “You know, everybody has a Vuitton or a Valentino, but this bag is different,” he says. “This is a party bag — it’s like a bomb in your hand because if you have a classic black dress or a simple dress and you wear this bag, boom! That’s your jewelry.”