WESTY 2023 Honorees: MZ Wallace founders design bags for busy New Yorkers

MZ Wallace’s Monica Zwirner and Lucy Wallace Eustice design stylish, functional handbags with New Yorkers in mind.

| 05 May 2023 | 01:48

Lucy Wallace Eustice and Monica Zwirner don’t design handbags for any particular ‘type’ of person—they design them for a lifestyle. Specifically, an active one.

Wallace describes being proud that their brand has “succeeded at not having a type, but really a broad appeal, from the high school girls at Fieldston to the grandmothers.”

The two women are co-founders of popular handbag company MZ Wallace, so named for Monica’s initials and Lucy’s surname. They are also longtime friends, who met through work while Zwirner was working as a stylist and Wallace was working in product development at Manolo Blahnik.

The initial inspiration for the MZ Wallace brand came from Zwirner and Wallace’s own lives and needs. As new mothers who were constantly active and rushing around the city, they found themselves in need of a bag that could hold all their belongings while remaining stylish.

“We were designing bags for ourselves,” explains Zwirner. “We were young mothers, busy, working, commuting, traveling. And we felt that there wasn’t a company that both stylistically and functionally was providing the product that we wanted that was also the right price point.”

“I’d been a fashion editor previously, and done all the shows in Europe and seen a lot in the accessory market. And I think we both felt...there are all these bags, all the designers, but nobody is really addressing our needs and we’re not that unusual,” adds Wallace. “So if we’re not having our needs met, there have to be other women who are not having their needs met as well.”

Over two decades later, customer reactions tell them they’ve succeeded. “We hear pretty often women say, ‘You can tell these bags are designed by women.’ It’s intuitive. Once they use an MZ Wallace bag, they tell us it’s difficult to use another bag,” says Zwirner.

Zwirner and Wallace say their longstanding friendship and strong partnership is part of the secret to their success.

“We have a great working relationship, and it’s been twenty-three years,” says Zwirner. “There’s an incredible sort of joy in having worked with someone, knowing each other so well and respecting each other, and that’s something that keeps it interesting. I wouldn’t be here if I were alone.”