Introducing the new Summer Bag Collection 2021

We’re delighted to give you a glimpse of our first Leather Bag Collection! Inspired by the perfection of Maltese vernacular architecture and crafted in exotic textured leather skins, the collection can be viewed at Malta’s most prestigious and exclusive luxury boutique property Iniala Harbour House on St. Barbara Bastions, Valletta.

All bags are artistic, one-off pieces, hand-stitched to perfection by our in-house designer and leather master, Ozzy Chien. This is the first bag collection for BIRGU BLUE, which is an independent atelier workshop, specialising in personalised and hand-stitched designed leather goods. Different collections include ready-made small leather goods and one-off customized pieces. 

Ozzy Chien is a Taiwanese artist and designer who lives permanently on Malta. His inspirations are drawn from his Asian background. Minimal decorations, clean and sharp outlines.
“I am often more interested in exploring structures and constructions than patterns and prints, thus, my designs are very architectural. For me, experiments and inventions on new structures and constructions are more innovative and adventurous than just using old or new prints or patterns on existing objects.”
The ELEMENTS Collection
This new collection is fully focused on fundamental elements of art and geometrical shapes. Combined one-off vintage or designed brass pieces with precious exotic leather make these items unique. The idea of taking objects out of their context and repurposing them into bags is the most interesting part of the collection. The collection is entirely hand-stitched.
The Diamond Handbag

Black, defined by science as the absence of colour, comes to life in this bag through the use of texture. The Diamond Bag defines black through texture rather than hue, through the playful use of two different leather types – genuine Australian sand python leather and vegetable-tanned cow leather. Australian sand python is known for its consistent pattern and resistant surface. Its perfectly balanced geometric shape is softened by the clever use of a vintage brass handle, which gives this piece a unique personality.

The bag is fully lined. It is combined with a one-off traditional Maltese vintage pure brass door handle. The bag is hand-stitched.

The Hexagon handbag
Indian mythology features strongly in our new designer bag collection, particularly so in the Hexagon Bag.  Half-animal & half-human, this individually-made handle cast in brass was specially made for this bag. Constructed with two materials, genuine python leather, and vegetable-tanned cow leather. The python retains the natural pattern. The bag is fully lined. Combined with one-off designed pure brass piece by jewelry designer Sonam Sakhuja. The bag is hand-stitched. 

This bag is an absolute stunner. A true statement, with its very special sculptured brass handle inspired by Indian deities, its lush snakeskin and vegetable-tanned leather, and unique geometric shape. A one-off piece merging art with fashion.

The Triangle Cellphone Pouch
Shaped like a wooden wedge & tapered at the front, the wedge is the simplest of designs with a fundamental function. It can unite or separate when placed in between two objects. A trait de liaison of sorts, this bag has a strong message to convey in today’s world.  Constructed with vegetable-tanned cow leather. Combined with a pure brass ring for either a cross-body strap or hooking onto the belt. The pouch is hand-stitched.

 

Are you sitting comfortably?

We have a soft spot for islands. We have visited plenty all over the world, and are always amazed at how small island communities manage to come up with products using their own limited resources, and oftentimes, pushing their own creativity and talent to the limit. Because, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

So we always end up looking out for particular products when visiting islands. And when in Menorca, we could not help visiting the Silas Menorca carpentry, home to the original Director’s Chair.

The director’s chair was originally designed by Miguel Angel Anglada Alzina in the early 20th century. It is still being manufactured today on the island of Menorca. Their bright coloured canvas seats and backs are washable and hard-wearing designed to withstand the elements, thus making them ideal for both indoor and outdoor furniture statement pieces.

Whatsmore, our Urban Island Cushions are the perfect go-together for that effortly stylish, yet practical everyday use of your chair. Come and discover the entire range at our online store

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Leather for Life

Our unique leatherware is hand-stitched to last a lifetime. Every garment is carefully crafted and individually made by hand by Ozzy, our in-house leather master craftsman.

Our credo is clear. Design is our commodity. We produce it in leather. Creating rather than following. Merging simplicity with practicality.

Every design is our own and made by us in our atelier, not in a factory. Hand-stitching is our trademark.

We pass on the skills in our workshops and assert no time pressure on the leather stitching process and the manual handling required to craft every garment. Which is why our quality is second to none and our objects are built to last a lifetime.

No job is too big for us, and you can custom-make your leather garment by calling at our boutique and discussing your requirements directly. You can view our leather gift collection and place your order online. Remember, you buy it once, it lasts a lifetime!

 

The Wizard of Oz

Our in-house leather artisan is called Ozzy. He is not Australian. But he sure is a wizard and a master in the art of leather-making!

Taiwanese-born Ozzy Chien works with cow hides. He knows his hides better than anyone else. He can craft anything using his hands, with the aid of simple tools which he’s mastered. He refuses to use machinery, and resists going commercial, prizing craftsmanship over profit. Like the Maltese, he is an islander, coming from that distant island called Taiwan, which like Malta, belies its size for exceptional talent and resources. He knows the sea, and is inspired by it. Which is why his designs and leather creations are the perfect fit for our boutique.

Watch Ozzy here in a typical day at our atelier!

Hamper Pamper!

Hampers are a gift good enough for royalty. In 2014 HRH Queen Elizabeth II presented Pope Francis with a hamper of British produce to mark their first meeting at the Vatican.

Nothing beats a fully laden luxury hamper to treat your loved ones for Christmas, and for those amongst us fortunate enough to ever receive one, we all know how wonderful it feels to go through the goodies reserved for us, almost like going through a cabinet of curiosities.

Hampers have a wonderful history, and as with most traditions, the Christmas hamper was once meant to represent something very different. The concept of hampers was first introduced to England by France and gained popularity during the Victorian period.

The wicker basket filled with delicious and savoury treats dates back to 1066 when William the Conqueror ruled Britain.

These early hampers were filled with food, drinks, and even clothing. Then, the baskets were first given as a charitable offering to poor or impoverished families. In some cases, the supplies could last a single family for several weeks.

As years passed by, the word ‘hamper’ evolved and with it, its meaning. In the 1200s, hampers, also known as “hanapers”, were used by some to store important documents. Several more historical events transformed the name and use of the hamper.

In 1706, people began to travel by stagecoach. This meant passengers would need food and drink for their journey. Hampers became a popular choice among many travellers dining en route.

The expansion of the railroad system in the late 1800s changed the way people and goods travelled. The railways made it easier for families and friends to send Christmas hampers long-distances as presents.

With the invention of the car came even more changes. Some baskets soon included tea kettles and burners. This allowed travelers to stop along the way for a calming, hot beverage and tea became a common inclusion in the hamper.

But transportation wasn’t the only feature that became more sophisticated. The contents of the Christmas hamper also evolved with some of the more lavish baskets showcasing delicacies like lobster.

It was around this time that the history of the Christmas hamper also evolved from a simple wicker basket carrying food and drink to a cherished gift given to those you love most.

Then and now, Christmas hampers are seen as a gesture of love and goodwill between friends and family. Many holiday traditions surround good food, good drink, and good people, making the Christmas hamper the perfect gift.

So why are our Christmas Hampers special?

Quality Contents
Our hampers offer a variety of high quality, luxury contents. From high-grade Ceylon teas to home-made jams and chutneys, premium wines and Maltese honey.

Surprise Delivery
When you order from us, you can arrange delivery at a specific workplace or home address.

High-Grade Craftsmanship
Quality food and drink is a must, but what distinguishes us from the rest is the artisanal craftsmanship of our leatherware. Our luxury hamper will also include an artisanal hand-stitched leather garment, for him or for her.

You may of course create your own personalised hamper and compose your own basket of goodness, or choose from combinations which we propose to suit anyone’s pocket!

Order yours today from www.birgublue.com

Wines and Chutneys – an unorthodox pairing!

Since we started back in October 2019, we wanted to represent a very well curated selection of Maltese culinary excellencies in our gourmet section. When it comes to wines, we chose to keep it local. Our wine varieties are rigorously Maltese, and we tend to favour wines made from the indigenous grape varieties – the Gellewza and the Girgentina.

Maltese wines have a marked personality, because of the terroir and the strong sunshine the vines are exposed to. They go well with meat, fish and poultry, as well as with cheeses. There are some excellent award-winning reds. One of our favourites is perhaps the Grand Vin de Hauteville Cabernet Sauvignon is a gold medal winning full-bodied and robust Malta grown Cabernet Sauvignon which offers true classical varietal character derived from selected hand picked grapes.

The white wine of the same family is equally rewarding. This fuller flavoured, dry white wine is made from the designer grape Viognier. It is an unoaked, delightfully fresh wine with an appealing floral and peachy nose. It is ripe in the mouth, yet has famously opulent apricot flavours to offer; all blossom-scented with exotic fruits.

It was by chance that we discovered the how pairing wines with chutneys can be delightfully rewarding!

Chutneys were introduced to Malta by the British in the 1800’s. Our chutneys are made of organic-grown fruit and vegetable chunks, home-cooked in vinegar, sugar and spices until reduced to a thick, dark sauce.

We always tend to associate chutneys with England. However, the word chutney derives from the Hindi word ‘chatni’ which loosly translates to sauce. It was brought to England by traders coming back from India in the 17th century.

At our boutique, you will always find a very healthy selection of reds and whites, as well as many different flavours of chutneys to complement your wines or cheeses, or as an accompaniment with meat, fish or poultry.

What’s more you can always experiment my pairing wines and chutneys! Here are some of our favourite combinations:

– Grand Vin de Hauteville Cabernet Sauvignon paired with tomato, chilli and sage chutney

– Grand Cavalier Merlot paired with tomato and apple chutney

– Grand Vin de Hauteville Viognier paired with Loquat and dates chutney

– Grand Cavalier Chardonnay paired with bambinella and papaya chutney

We have just launched our wines and chutney pairing workshops. Book yours with us here and learn how chutneys can offer you a window to the food which complement your wines!

The story of Eskedar and Ethiopia’s Black Gold

Thirteen years ago, a young lady called Eskedar arrived in Malta as a refugee fleeing her troubled homeland  in Africa. Her boat was intercepted by Malta’s naval forces and brought safely to shore.

Malta became home to her, but she was always rooted to her homeland and her family in Ethiopia, who ran coffee plantations for generations.

Eventually she moved from Malta to Lithuania, where she set up her very own coffee brand which takes after her name – Eskedar cafe. Her two distinct coffee blends, the Buna and the Sidamo, are sold exclusively in Malta at our store in Birgu.

Eskedar’s story with Malta has now come full circle.

Make Tea Not War – the quest to source the best highland teas in the world

In December last year, I quit my director’s job and decided to take a break and step back from an international career which saw me living in some of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe – London, Paris and Rome. I took a sabbatical and went out on a mission to source some of the best teas in the world.

The highlands of Nuwara Eliya in Ceylon was the natural place to start my journey. Here, I visited some of the most important tea estates on the island. I ventured to the tea plantations, met the amazing women tea-pickers who diligently pluck those tea leaves which make the most divine tea cups, and learnt to distinguish and taste the various tea flavours which this land offers. It was an incredible experience, and the satisfaction of personally sourcing my own teas for our Boutique was immense.

In the end, I settled for tea from two very different tea estates. The BlueFields tea estate, which is one of the oldest established estates of Ceylon, and the Nandana tea estate, located in the south, and renowned for its organic flavoured teas.

We now have a selection of ten different teas at our Boutique – Earl Gray, Vanilla, Peppermint and Cinnamon teas make up our naturally-flavoured tea selection. For the tea purists, we offer Pekoe Tea, Orange Pekoe (OP), Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP) and of course, Green Tea!

You may now shop for our teas online, or even follow a tea and jam pairing workshop where you get to taste all of our teas, accompanied by some of our home-made jams!

Farm-to-table – the story of Birgu Blue

When we were carrying out restoration works at our pied-a-terre, which today houses our independent apartment within the Birgu Blue portfolio, we did realise that the entrance hall must have hosted an animal of sorts, which would have been tied onto the wall, during the day or possibly at night to provide the animal with shelter. The elderly folk of Birgu also told us that the space had many uses in the past.

One room (which is now the bedroom) was indeed a boathouse, and housed a traditional ‘frejgatina’ of a local fisherman for many decades. It was also a workshop and a store for leather and shoes for a while and the amount of leather shoes we salvaged from the well (today the wine cellar), proves this.

But the place was mostly remembered by the locals as a grocery store of sorts, where a local farmer would bring his fresh vegetables and fruit from his fields just off the city walls and sell his fresh produce off the back of his mule!

This old photograph of the little donkey was taken some 65 years ago. The two young boys in the black and white photo are today adults, and they were kind enough to come over to our shop and let us have this original picture!

We can safely say that we have been doing Farm-to-Table for over 65 years! And we uphold this tradition by stocking a selection of organic jams and chutneys at our store, lovingly prepared by Maltese gastronome Andrea Critien of ‘With Love from Our Kitchen’.

Learn more about our concept store here.

New Concept Store launched in historic Birgu on the occasion of BirguFest 2019.

Against a magical backdrop of the candlelit medieval city of Birgu, the launch party of Birgu Blue Rendez-Vous was held on Saturday 12th October.

Birgu Blue is the latest concept store to open its doors in Birgu, and is the first of its kind in the Three Cities. Guests at the launch party were treated to a reception showcasing the selection of wines, jams, chutneys and coffee which are stocked in the Gourmet Section of the store. The Concept Store combines the Gourmet Section with fine designer products, all inspired by Malta. The curated selection includes items by renowned Maltese designer Stephanie Borg, as well as an in-house leather collection of garments, bags and accessories designed by Taiwanese fashion designer Ozzie Chien who fuses Asian design with Italian quality and excellence.

A number of events and workshops are planned in the coming weeks, as the store launches the Birgu Blue Academy, which will consist of regular workshops, presentations and short courses for small groups on topics ranging from Design Masterclasses, Leather workshops and Wine appreciation.

The store is open daily except for Mondays, and is located in the historic Collacchio quarter at 66, Hilda Tabone Street, Birgu.

Q&A – Media Launch – Saturday 9th November 2019

JVC :Can you tell me more about this concept, and how it came about?

CZT : The idea was hatched in my head about 7 years ago, when I was still living in Paris. I was exposed the French Art-de-Vivre – the Parisian Cafe’ Lifestyle, the wonderful balance that one finds in France between work and leisure. These incredible French who manage to cram a week’s work in 36 hours and enjoy more of their liesure time, perhaps more than any other European country.

Fast forward a few more years, when I moved to Rome, and there I discovered another very interesting atmosphere, a kind of non-chalance and easy living – the Dolce Vita, perhaps, a concept which has been immortalised by the late great Federico Fellini the famous 60’s movie bearing the same name.

This space is meant to capture the spirit of the Good Life – those elements which lead to Good Living. The Simplicity, the elegance, the comfort and the solace we find in objects we decide to surround ourselves with.

JVC : But what is it that you do exactly?

CZT : we’ve come up with this wonderful tagline which is The ABC of Good Living to better explain who we are and what we do. ABC takes us back to the alphabet, the very beginning of our learning process. It is a reminder that sometimes, finding real happiness and capturing the elusive spirit of Living Well, we need to Unlearn, we need to go back to basics, we need to Simplify our lives. We need to eat and drink stuff which is closer to home, we need to de-clutter.

JVC : I know that each letter represents an activity you do. Tell us more about this’

CZT : I’ll start with the A. ABC also reminds us that education, knowledge & learning are key to Good Living.

So the A in ABC stands for Academy, which is the first area of activity we shall be engaged with. This space today is set up as a shop floor and show room, but it has been designed very cleverly to become a classroom. There are 12 Menorca chairs stacked away in the cupboard and the space is equipped with the latest audiovisual technology – projector, white screen, BOSE sound system to hold workshops, presentations or indeed short coursesfor intimate small groups of between 8 to 12 pax. So we’re already working on a calendar of events for our Academy, which will include Design Masterclasses, Sailing Courses, Food and Wine Tastings, Coffee and Tea rituals, local history sessions. OUr aim is to keep it as varied as possible. We want this to be an open academy, where people from all walks of life meet, exchange and engage – and nurture thier soul with knowledge.

JVC : And what does the B in ABC represent then?

CZT : Of course we are also a Boutique, so the B in ABC stands for Boutique. We believe that in order to live well, beautiful objects and aesthetics are vital. So we’ve been working hard (and enjoying ourselves immensely along the way) to select and curate items which in our humble opinion make us feel good – in most cases, these objects are locally made, and if not, they have some connection with Malta or are sourced from other Islands.

Take the Menorca Chairs you’re sitting on, which we also sell. We bring them ourselves directly from Menorca. We managed to source a company which still has the original designs of what is better known internationally as the Director’s Chair. This chair was designed back in the 1920’s on the island of Menorca by a certainMiguel Ãngel Anglada Alzina. Well Menorca happens to be a island in the Med just like we are, so we’re now stocking these wonderful chairs and also proposing them in leather… though our in-house leather artisan who works here for us and designs our leather accessory and garment collection.

Which brings me to the other strong focus of the Concept Store – leather. About one third of our shop floor area is dedicated to leather. And for good reason. We have our very own collection of leatherware, which means that contrary to all the other items where we select and curate, when it comes to leather objects and bags, we source the raw materials, design the collection and have them produced and sold exclusively in our shop. It take much more work and effort of course, but it also ensures that every single piece you see is unique, it is hand-made, and 100% hand stitched by our in-house leather man – Ozzie Chien. This allows us to be original and playful in our designs – so we came up with a scented candle holder for the Birgu by Candlelight festival last week, which incidentally double up as a mug holder as well for your caffe lattes, and we designed those lovely espresso al vetro cups which complement perfectly our Coffee beans which we import from Ethiopia.

A part of our concept also includes a mini gourmet section. Our gourmet corner is an important aspect in the equation – we’ve got some wonderful homemade jams and chutneys lovingly prepared for us by Andrea Critien of With Love From Our Kitchen, and of course the Maltese wines form Delicata Winery. We’ve decided to keep it local. The best local premium wines from the Delicata WIne Collection – the Medina, the Grand Vin the Hauteville, the Grand Cavalier, and jams and preserves from seasonal fruits and vegetables.

We’re also looking at sourcing some teas. We’re lucky to have Ozzie who is Taiwanese, and as you know, Taiwan produces some of the finest green teas in the world.

JVC : You’ve mentioned your coffee. You live in Italy. Why this choice of importing coffee from Ethiopia directly. What’s the story here?

CZT : As I said before, we try as much as possible to showcase products which have a connection with Malta. Eskedar coffee is a great coffee quality-wise, but the story of Eskedar herself, whose coffee brand is named after her is indeed very touching.

13 years ago, Eskedar arrived in Malta on a boat as a refugee and was saved by our Armed Forces off the coast and brought safely ashore. Malta became home to her, but she was always rooted to her homeland and her family in Ethiopia, who had coffee plantations for generations. She now lives in Lithuania. Her very own brand – Eskedar coffee is now established and her coffee blends – the BUNA and the SIDAMO are some of the best coffees we have ever had. We are proud to supply Eskedar coffee at Birgu Blue. And Eskedar’s story with Malta has come full circle.

JVC : So should i presume that the C in ABC stands for Coffee?

CZT: Coffee is a part of our lives. How dull and boring would life be without coffee? It’s not just about the drink itself! It is also about the aroma, the smell, the ritual. It’s the culture around the coffee drinking. It’s the messy business of stuffing your moka with coffee powder and letting it boil until you get that irresistible coffee smell every morning. So yes, if you like the C is about the coffee. However it is also about the custom and bespoke experience which we offer here at Birgu Blue. Our leather products are bespoke. We do not hold large quantities in stock . All items are perfectly tailor-made, down to putting the initials of the client on bags or wallets or anything else which can be ordered. We would like to extend the bespoke element of Birgu Blue to services as well. Se C stands also for Concierge services, particularly addressing the tourist market and the expat community in Malta. In order to do this you need a very strong and intimate knowledge of the destination, as well as a good network of contacts on the island. We have it, and we intend applying the knowledge and the network we’ve created over the years to serve our clients, who may be individuals who do not wish to follow a plain vanilla standard, run-of-the-mill tour of the islands. Rather they are after the experience and the authentic experience. Although it is still early days, and we are still far from being operational on this aspect of our business model, the concept is there and we just have to work on it.

JVC : Claude, I’ve seen that you’ve put aside a small goodie bag with the press pack. What have you come up with?

CZT : for the launch party at during Birgu Fest, we thought we’d have a bit of fun with some design illustrations to explain our concept. So we got a designer friend of ours whose work is very much inspired by the vintage Campari and Martini artwork and she came up with some wonderful designs which perfectly reflect our style. So we’ve thrown in a nice ABC poster, as well as the full set of 10 postcards which represent a nice selection of the items we’re proposing at our Store.

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