“Working with leathers was something I really wanted to do, but I’m a perfectionist,” says Peter Nitz. “I didn’t want to start until I had the opportunity to do it in the best possible way.” Luckily, four years ago he met an Hermès craftswoman who gave him a private apprenticeship, leading to the debut of his eponymous collection of ultra-high-end handbags in 2009. Now a broader audience can get in on the action. With designer Heike Köhler and entrepreneur Mario Margelist, the Zurich-based Nitz recently launched Van Astyn, an accessories line that melds luxury materials with somewhat more affordable pricing. (The brand’s creations range from $800 to $1,200, compared with $6,000 to $20,000 for Nitz’s namesake collection.) The bags, which will be available in the U.S. starting this month, are clean lined, hardware free—and made from the same leathers used by Hermès (vanastyn.com).

Illustration by Stina Persson