Chances are you’ve seen a Hobo purse before. A fixture in the epic handbag sections of Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and other major department stores, the 20-year-old brand has built a massive yet perhaps unknowingly loyal fanbase thanks to its funky leather detailing and unusual yet accessible designs. Officially available in 3,500 stores nationwide, the company Koren Ray launched with her mother, Toni, and her husband, David Brewer, out of her Annapolis home can now add one more retail outlet to the list. And this time, they won’t be sharing the spotlight with anyone else.
Hobo opened the cherry red door of its first standalone boutique on Thursday, April 5. Though the company keeps a showroom in New York and has fans across the country, Ray, the chief visionary officer, opted for a quirky three-story town house on Annapolis’s Green Street as the location of her first store. The building is a mere 5 miles from the street where Ray lives, two doors down from her mother.
“I travel all over the world, but Annapolis is still a wonderful place to come home to,” Ray explains. “We wanted to put down roots in our community.”
The cheery space channels the brand’s funky, offbeat sense of style. Downstairs, clutches are sparsely placed along two live-edge Matumi wood shelves that run the length of the floor. Above the shelves, roomy totes and shoulder bags hang from fluid metal fixtures hand-sculpted in Brooklyn. Sleepy blue tree branch paper covers the walls of the second-floor showroom, where bags hang on floor-to-ceiling cherry red poles. The third floor houses a sunny work studio, in which Ray and her team dream up new designs. Clearly, Hobo has come a long way from that first two-color natural leather line Ray and her mother designed at their kitchen table.
Though the Hobo store is located an hour’s drive from Washington, the styles available speak directly to women living and working inside the Beltway.
“We’re honoring women from this area who work hard and want to be organized,” says Ray of her designs, many of which include extra pockets and pouches. “Women [here] want to look good, but they want style that works. They want a sense of purpose to their bag.”
Our favorite examples of this are the woven leather Tangle tote ($298), which features a foldable top for extra room; the slim Euro slide wallet ($54), which keeps your Metro card at the ready; and the date-ready (and unusually roomy) Blythe evening clutch ($148). Also cute: the asymmetrical zipper on the Zara cross-body bag ($128).
See more styles, along with pictures of the store’s interior, in our slideshow.
Hobo Bags. 194 Green St., Annapolis, MD. 410-349-5081. Open Monday through Thursday 10 to 6, Friday and Saturday 10 to 8, and Sunday 11 to 7.