Accessories designer Hilary Cluett uses Toronto for inspiration

Pressing rivets and cutting leather is just a typical afternoon in the studio for Toronto accessories designer Hilary Cluett.

Handbags adorned with sheepskin, spikes, leather tassels, two-sided rivets and more can be seen in and around Downtown Toronto. For Cluett’s bags, the possibilities are endless.

Part of her inspiration comes from Kensington Market, where she creates and finds all of her materials.

“I love that you can walk around and there are so many different kinds of people to see during the day. There is so much creativity,” she said. “I use a few different local suppliers to get materials for my bags. You can find amazing leather and metal accessories around there. You start to get to know people.”

Cluett has a background in experimenting with challenging and rare mediums. “I studied Material Art and Design in Toronto for three years,” she said. “I got to work on projects like making alloys with molten silver, casting bronze and laser engraving and pattern stamping on leather.”

She uses her intuition and experience to create her bags, testing prototypes before putting the designs up for sale.

She has readymade pieces for purchase at Hart & Hive at 353 College Street. She also works with her clients to create custom eye-catching designs through her website

By Liz Bevan

Hilary Cluett
Obsessed with fire and trained as a blacksmith, Hilary Cluett incorporates ancient techniques used by jewellery makers into her bag designs. From concept to completion, everything is made with love, for life. The metal studs are permanent fixtures and much stronger than traditional methods of assembling a bag.
At her studio space in the basement of Hart & Hive, Hilary Cluett turns her dreams into reality, smashing haute couture and street culture together. With all the tools available, she is an unstoppable creative machine.
Available exclusively at the Trunk Show in December. This handpainted leather bag is one of a kind, satin lined and asembled with high quality metal studs and a flexible red rubber handle. For more information on the Trunk Show please visit
Fuzzy Friend | Tote by the HCFU. Available exclusively at the Trunk Show in December. Handcrafted from a beautiful Mongolian Sheep and dyed by hand in Toronto. 5 extra small, satin-lined, evenings bags will be made available to the public in December. Custom orders and colours available upon request, please visit for more details.
Antiqued Brown Leather | Tote by the HCFU. Current collection in progress for everyday wear this fall. The rubber handle is strong enough to comfortably carry a laptop and is the perfect go-to bag. Handcrafted from thick boot leather, this collection of bags will retail for $250. 5 totes will be made available to the public. Please visit for more details
Hilary Cluett, wearing the Rosey Too Two | Tote by the HCFU and enjoying a break in Kensington Market between her jobs. One of Hilary’s favourite passtimes is watching the world go by.
Answering phones and providing excellent customer service is all in a days work for Hilary Cluett. The hustle never stops for this creative spirit living in Toronto.
Local shops provide the inspiration and materials for Hilary Cluett’s incredibly unique designs. The comment most heard from shop owners is: “I have never seen this before!” This innovation plays a driving force in all the HCFU created accessories.

What hood are you in?

I work in a studio in Kensington Market.

What do you do?

Accessories are generally what I design and use various metals and leather as
my primary materials.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working to expand my repertoire and experimenting in new forms and materials.

Where can we find your work?

I have pieces available for sale at Hart & Hive on College Street.

Instagram: @thehcfu



About Joel Levy 2552 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography