Timeless classic… a chat with Hanspeter Winklmeyr

Hanspeter Winklmeyr hard at work at his factory.

Hanspeter Winklmeyr hard at work at his factory.

The Via La Moda brand, exclusive producers of genuine leather handbags and accessories, was founded by Hanspeter Winklmeyr. He grew up spending countless hours playing with glue and materials while his father worked with leather in his workshop.

“I came to South Africa after completing my Masters degree in 1981 in fine leather craft and design in Vienna, Austria. I was hired as a designer as well as production manager at one of the top leather goods manufacturer at that time”. With the experience he gained, recognising his passion for having his own business, Winklmeyr left his job and started Via La Moda in 1989.

Not only is he passionate about his brand, but also protective. “The raw materials used are sourced from ethical farmers and tanners with whom Via La Moda has had business relationships for many years. The process of commercial farming along these lines ensures that the population of fauna is safeguarded”. Via La Moda follows the guidelines provided by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in 1974.

Via La Moda Nicotene Ostrich Leather Handbag R24 355

Via La Moda Nicotene Ostrich Leather Handbag R24 355

Having been around for over two decades, the brand’s formula has proven to be successful, which also makes it unique. “It’s a combination of at least three aspects. Firstly, our pieces are made using traditional methods along with European techniques. Secondly, the material we use as the core of our creations has its own unique texture and patterns so no two pieces will ever be identical. Thirdly, we design with the practicalities of the end user in mind”.

Longevity requires reinvention. Via La Moda relaunched its showroom last year to celebrate a quarter of a century in existence. “The showroom provides our client with a never-ending kaleidoscope of colour, design and material to choose from”.

Via La Moda Lime Hornback Leather Handbag R23 912

Via La Moda Lime Hornback Leather Handbag R23 912


What is your philosophy when it comes to style and design?

Style is more timeless than fashion. Designing is a bit like dating, you never exactly know what the outcome will be in the end. Ideally, it should result in a marriage of design aesthetics and the natural factor of what the material allows.

What travel destinations have inspired you when it comes to your craft at Via La Moda and how have these places inspired you?

The destination that has inspired me the most is Japan because of the respectful culture, structured organisation and clean design. While I was there, I missed the soul of Africa because I am inspired daily by its sunrise and sunsets.

I’m a keen observer. Throughout my travels across Africa, Asia and the European continent I have seen many cultures, yet one thing is constant – our humanity. With the absence of harmony, we would lose our humanity and this inspires me to instill harmony when practising our craft.

What legacy would you like to leave behind?

The legacy I would like to leave behind is one of having taught people the art of leather craft and the ability to work with precious materials, taking pride in what they do so that one day they could sustain not only themselves, but their families too.

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