Designed to last

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Ten years ago, Anupa Horvil, 38, left London to backpack across the world.

When she arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, Horvil saw an opportunity to make her dream come true.

"Vietnamese culture is very warm and open," she says.

After five years of working at an advertising firm, the British-Indian woman launched her own business as a fashion designer.

Horvil studied business, marketing and law at the University of Trent in England and never thought she would become a fashion designer, she says.

But she wanted to work for herself. As if to make the idea official, Horvil named her company Anupa.

Her mother taught her to sew when she was a little girl. Growing up in London, she says she drew inspiration from bold Indian colors and design.

Since launching her business, she has remained committed to sustainable and environmentally-friendly business practices.

Each piece of Anupa clothing bears a small tourmaline amulet hand sewn into decorative beading and backed with gold, silver or platinum.

The stone, she says, protects the wearer from negative energies.

"All semi-precious gems used in my accessories have been sourced from international practicing gemologists," she says.

Horvil's designs reflect her active, cosmopolitan lifestyle. Many were inspired by her daily activities.

"Her designs consider more than the basic fashion needs of men and women they also consider people's various activities," said Pham Thu Minh, as she perused a wide array of bags at Horvil's shop in District 1.

There were laptop bags, travel bags and spa bags. Minh settled on the long, leather Shanti yoga bag. Horvil got the idea for the spacious item by her own uncomfortable rush to pack up after class.

Horvil has taken special care to consider every aspect of her products. All of her zippers and accessories are custom made and nickel free.

Her finicky approach to design stems from her belief that when a customer purchases a luxury item, he or she wants to know that it has been designed to last a lifetime.

"At Anupa, all our products are designed with this in mind," she says. "From fine details such as the thread we use to sew our bags, through to the raw materials and processes used to make them."

"I am into something practical, easy to use, simple and sophisticated designs that customers will like," she says. "I like leather products because they last a long time."

Horvil claims to take special care to treat all her leather with the latest techniques to ensure they are at once soft and ecologically sustainable.

The luxury market favors female designers but Anupa also offers a collection for men. In fact, Horvil favors male models (usually Vietnamese footballers) in her promotional materials and refuses to employ gaunt and wane women to showcase her clothing.

"I love my job and what I am doing," she says, of her life in HCMC. "I enjoy creating and having time with family and my husband."

Address: 17/27 Le Thanh Ton St., Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh City

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