Almost everything the Iriarte sisters know about hand-tooling leather, they taught themselves. Four years later, "we're still not geniuses at it," says Sol. But you'd never know it — the bag line is doing well, and when we visited, the pair were in talks with their first American retailer.

Iriarte Iriarte, Clothing Designers

For more than three years, the Argentinean sisters Sol Caramilloni Iriarte and Carolina Lopez Gordillo Iriarte kept a design studio on the second floor of a building in Barcelona, handcrafting an eponymous line of leather bags in relative privacy. Sol, 32, was working part-time as a set designer for films; Carolina, 25, had just finished a year apprenticing under her friend Muñoz Vrandecic, the Spanish couture shoemaker. Called Iriarte Iriarte, it was a modest operation.

And then in June, fate intervened: A charming little storefront became available at Carrer de l’Esquirol No.1, on the same block as Vrandecic’s shop, and the sisters transformed it into a showroom and studio with an open, almost autobiographical quality. Their main focus is still the leather bags, which they make by hand in shapes evocative of the satchels they carried as students attending English-speaking private schools in Buenos Aires. But they also stock references to their more recent past, including a series of necklaces with charms they’ve picked up along their travels and a selection of vintage furniture and shop fixtures acquired by Sol from her set-design projects. Up a narrow flight of stairs in back, a lofted studio lets visitors watch from below as the sisters hand-tool the bags and experiment with new ideas, like a series of shoe prototypes or a just-launched line of clothing that also riffs on their old school uniforms. “We taught ourselves how to work leather, but it’s not the only thing we’re doing,” explains Sol. “The goal isn’t to become the greatest leather artisans ever, it’s to design. We love to design. And we’ve learned to do it better by doing it the old way.”