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Issue Date: April 2011

Clutch Performance

Find one-of-a-kind accessories and designer handbags at Mellow Yellow.
Kristen Hampshire

There's more to a designer handbag than leather and a label. Just ask Mellow Yellow owner Manseok Han. Stop in and he'll give you a tour of the handbags on display, offering background on each one — commentary on the craftsmanship, insight on the design, a story.

He's got the Miss Mak loop-strap bag ($168): winner of a European award for quality and design in Paris. Then there's the Hayden-Harnett Fantasia line ($350-$550) inspired by the Disney film. Han zeros in on a Due Fratelli bag ($565). "This is the finest Italian lambskin used in the market," he shares, smoothing his fingers over the seams to show off the fine construction. Then he's on to a CC Skye satchel ($650): "This is glamorous," he says, complimenting the snakeskin embossed leather facade that's baby soft.

The enticing labels Han sells offer purse lovers something different: high style and quality for prices in the $200 to $600 range. "We bring inspiring, fun designs — the real 'it' bag," Han says.

And that's not all he has to offer. While you might spend $420 on an on-trend navy DX Touch of Miami swing bag, you can modestly indulge in a fun dragonfly cocktail ring for $16 or a mod 1940s-esque couture headband with a rose-and-veil look for $36. Kate Middleton look-alike engagement rings are available for $36.

Han, who in 1977 started the local urban chain TNT Fashions and grew it to 14 stores in its heyday, decided to do something different this time around. "The U.S. accessories market has been booming since 2003," he says. Women who hesitate to invest in major wardrobe pieces are more comfortable dressing up with an affordable scarf or necklace-earring set.

Mellow Yellow is a reflection of that trend. An 18-karat white gold-plated chain dripping with lavender Swarovski crystals is game for a night on the red carpet but costs a surprising $42.

"People tell us that we caught them off guard; there are so many things to choose from," Han says. "They see styles that they haven't seen around here."

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