Frequently Asked Questions


Can I apply with 2 different bags to the same category?

ANSWER No, if you do, the first bag applied will be the bag that is used for that category submission. Do not submit an application with 2 different bags in the same image. This will result in disqualification.


  1. What are the IHDA Category Qualifications?
    The Best Student Made Handbag

    Students who have successfully started their handbag lines which still in school
    Students must have started their lines while still in school
    Currently attending high school, college or university on any level
    Bags must be under student's own label
    Major in design is optional

    The Best Handmade Handbag

    Made with any material where the designer is making their bag by sewing machine or by hand
    Bags must be made by the designer using a sewing machine or by hand
    Must be under designer's own label
    Manufactured or factory-made bags are not allowed

    The Best Green Handbag

    Bags that are made out of sustainable, recycled or organic materials
    Bags can be made from
    Raw materials: 100% organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, cork
    Recycled materials: fabric, soda bottles, vinyl, etc.
    Sustainable fibers: corn based, cotton, linen, ramie, seaweed, silk, soy, etc.
    All components (e.g. metal zippers, buttons, clasps should be made from recycled metal or reused pieces)
    Handbag should be completely recyclable at the end of its life
    Any dyed fabric should be done with a non-toxic dye that does not use fixing agents

    The Most Socially Responsible Handbag:

    Bags must be under designer's own label
    Bags must be made in country where portion of the proceeds are given back to that country of manufacturing
    Bags must be made by country that employs local communities to create jobs and work in third world countries or poverty-stricken regions

    The Best Handbag in Overall Style and Design

    Best executed handbag overall in style and design
    Best executed handbag overall in style and design
    Bags must be under designer's own label
    Bags must be unique in their overall style and design

    ** Sketch Based Categories **

    Audience Fan Favorite

    Based on the IHDA Finalists & Voted by online audience and fans

  2. Can anyone apply?
    Yes. No matter where you are at in your business, you are welcome to apply. However, note that if you are designing for a licensee or are funded by another brand, your submission will not be accepted since you are no longer an independent handbag designer.
  3. How do I apply?
    Upload 1 "product shot" of one bag only in jpeg format and be sure to save the image with no hyphens, spaces or symbols. Make sure the image is a jpeg and not a bitmap, pdf or any other format, or else your application will be disqualified.Correct: Handbags_By_MeIncorrect: Handbags-By-Me
  4. What is the best way to show my bag?
    Please make sure that the image is of the highest resolution and quality. Try to avoid distracting backgrounds like people or hangers and do not have any text or watermarks on the uploaded images. Try to avoid using people so it does not take away from the details of your bag. If you need more information, go to Bloomingdale's to see how they display their handbags to understand what a proper handbag product shot looks like.
  5. Can I upload an image with my logo on it just in case for branding?
    No. It is distracting to your bag image and will take away from the details of the bag. We will know it is your bag, don't worry.
  6. What information must you have of mine?
    We will need your name, email address and correct telephone numbers. We will also need a bag detailed description. Make sure to also include below the image a description and keep it simple; Bag Brand Name, Style name (if there is one), silhouette type, material, color, and retail price. Example: Handbags By Me, "Hanna" style, Tote, red lambskin leather, $200 Photos that are too blurry or dark will be not be accepted. Please note that applications submitted without a full product description or not in jpeg format will also be disqualified.
  7. What is a silhouette?
    Silhouette is a the shape of your bag. For example, tote, cross-body, hobo, coin-purse, facile-frame - those are silhouettes that you could use to describe your bag.
  8. What if I submit a pdf, gif, a word document, my linesheets or anything but a jpeg?
    Your photo will not upload and will not be accepted.
  9. Will I be informed if my bag is not uploaded correctly?
    Yes. We review the applications and will alert you as a courtesy if your image does not go through. That will be the only reason why you will be contacted prior to the application closing deadline of April 25th, 2020 at 11:59 pm, EST.
  10. When I hit the Proceed button, my computer freezes.
    You need to make sure you are working with at least Windows 97. Any version older will not be able to transmit images.
  11. Can I apply with 2 different bags to the same category?
    No, if you do, the first bag applied will be the bag that is used for that category submission. Do not submit an application with 2 different bags in the same image. This will result in disqualification.
  12. Can I use the same bag for every category?
    Yes you can.
  13. English is not my first language. Will that work against me when I apply?
    No, but we strongly recommend proof-reading or having someone review your application regardless.
  14. Can I review my application after I apply?
    Yes. Once you apply and submit, you can log back in to double-check your application until April 25th. We strongly suggest proof-reading and review your application before you submit to avoid any spelling or grammar errors. Please write in full sentences. Remember you are representing your brand.
  15. How long does it take to apply?
    Only 5-10 minutes but we strongly advise proof-reading your application before you submit.
  16. Which categories require a sketch submission and not a finished bag?
    See the categories that have the pencil on their page that states "SKETCH BASED." The guidelines are for sketch-based categories are that you must submit a detailed sketch and are to be submitted in jpeg format. Once informed you are a finalist, you will be required to make the bags from your sketches within the time allotted. Any submission for these categories that is of a finished bag will not be accepted.
  17. Can I use a sketch of a bag I already made for a sketch-based category?
    No. If used, it will be disqualified.
  18. How long will I get to actually make my bag if I become a finalist for either sketch-based categories?
    You will be informed if you are a Finalist on Monday, April 27th and then you have 3 weeks to make your bag.
  19. When is the application deadline?
    April 27, 2019 at 11:59pm EST with no exceptions.
  20. Will the deadline be extended?
  21. My bags won't be ready to shoot until after April 25th, is that ok?
    No. Your application will not be accepted.
  22. What is the IHDA Process?
    The industry's top fashion and accessories' bloggers will review submissions at a pre-screening event on April 26th. Five finalists will be selected in each category based on the merits of their designs. Once selected, designers must send their handbag to IHDA headquarters within one week of being notified. From here, a fashion panel of esteemed industry professionals will judge the finalists' designs. The designer that receives the most votes in each category will be announced as the winner on June 10th, 2020.
  23. If I am a finalist, when will I be informed?
    You will be informed if you are a Finalist on Monday, April 27th.
  24. If I am a finalist, what are my responsibilities?
    Once informed, you will need to send the bag you submitted to IHDA Headquarters by no later than Friday, May 1st since they will be collected on Monday, May 4th for InStyle to shoot. Any bags received after May 1st will not be accepted and will be disqualified. Please note, it is your responsibility to pay for all shipping, handling, customs and duties fees to ship and/or return your bag. Any bag shipped COD will be disqualified.
  25. What if my bag is not available on April 25th?
    Finalists may provide the exact bag that was submitted in order to compete in the design competition. We will not accept a bag in a different color, material or shape. Any other bags will not be accepted and will be disqualified.
  26. What if I am disqualified?
    With over 2000 applicants, the designer that was last chosen will take your place. It is very important that all rules are followed so this does not happen.
  27. Do I need to come to New York City for the IHDA on June 10th, 2020?
    Yes. You must be in attendance.
  28. Can the IHDA provide accommodation, help finance my trip or organize my itinerary to NYC?
    No. It is your responsibility to pay for your own trip. This is a life changing opportunity and you shouldn't miss it.
  29. How can I become part of the Audience Fan Favorite Award?
    The Audience Fan Favorite is based on the IHDA Finalists selected via our media partner.
  30. I only have 1 sample of my bag, will that be a problem?
    No, but you should be organized and make sure you are aware how to produce your bag just in case you are a Winner and need samples ready for sale or press.
  31. I am a Finalist, will I get my bag back?
    After June 10th, all Finalists will get their bags returned unless needed for press or further editorial coverage.
  32. What are the IHDA Prizes?
    Please refer to the Category page for each prize.
  33. Will more categories be added after January 1st? I want to know if I should keep checking in just in case.
    Yes! Stay tuned as we are confirming more great categories and prizes so definitely stay tuned.
  34. I am a Winner, how do I get my prize?
    It is the Winner's responsibility to follow up with their Sponsor's prize. The Winner should make sure they speak to their sponsor immediately the night of the Awards and make arrangements to meet the day after to discuss details to execute the collaboration.
  35. Can I contact the IHDA regarding my prize after I win?
    We will connect you with your category Sponsor in order to ensure that you receive your prize and fulfull your IHDA duties. Please note that your win is also a reflection on us so it is also your responsibility to do the best job possible.
  36. I would like to send out a press release about my win, is that OK?
    Absolutely, but you must send all releases to the IHDA for approval.
  37. How can I follow you on Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin?
    Absolutely! Instagram: @HandbagDesigner; SnapChat: @HandbagDesigner; Twitter: @HandbagDesigner; Facebook: /HBD101; Linkedin: Handbag Designer 101; Meetup: Handbag Designer 101.
  38. I have a question that isn't answered, can I contact you?
    Yes, you may contact us at
  39. How do the sketch-based categories work?
    For the application process, you have to submit a sketch based on the guidelines provided by each category. You will be notified the first day after the Preliminary Judging Panel meets that you are Finalist. From there, you have approximately 3 weeks to complete the finished bag based on the sketch you provided. It must reflect the submitted sketch without exception. You will be responsible for sending in your own bag at your expense to the sponsor which you will be notified further information as to where it will go for be judged. See the homepage to confirm the application deadline.
  40. What is the deadline to apply to this year's Handbag Awards?
    Saturday, April 25th at midnight EST
Can't find the answers you're looking for? Contact us and we'll get back to you as quickly as we can.