While many clothing and accessory stores have left Main Street over the course of the pandemic, the handbag boutique SUSU stands counter to that trend and is breathing new life into the commercial district with its playful and colorful geometric bags.
At the helm of the business is Susu Zheng, a fashion designer who came to Los Angeles from China and built a thriving online handbag business from scratch. Now a decade after the brand’s launch in 2012, SUSU has its first brick and mortar location at 2400 Main St in the same small center as Shoop’s Deli.
The bright and airy store offers all the classic varieties of bags including crossbodies, backpacks, shoulder bags, and wristlets. But, what sets SUSU apart from other handbag companies is its creative uses of geometric shapes, bright colors and ornamental studs. There are octagonal bags, triangular bags, and even a bag that opens like an accordion.
One customer favorite is the Hollywood crossbody bag, which is decorated in a variety of charm-like silver studs and comes in both classic and unusual colors including arcadia green, burgundy red, vanilla custard cream, neon yellow, sky blue and black. Another best seller is the Angelica asymmetrical triangular envelope that comes in more than 15 colors.
“The color selection is all based on my mood,” says Zheng, commenting on how she picks out her palettes. “Especially after COVID, I feel people were pent up so much and you feel like you want to enjoy life again and you feel like you are reborn and I wanted the bright colors to make you feel happy.”
All of the purse designs center around the concept of making people feel happy. Zheng grew up in a province outside of Shanghai as one of six children. At the time many people in China were poor, so her family made do with little and she didn’t own her first dress until she was 15 years old. She remembers the great joy she felt when acquiring new fashion items and went on to gain admission to the prestigious Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, where she studied fashion design.
“The thing is when you dress nicely, it makes you feel good, feel confident, it actually makes you happy and we want to do that. We want, when you carry this bag, to make you feel good, feel confident, have a good day and elevate your entire mood,” said Zheng.
Zheng describes the style of SUSU as classically modern with a touch of cool, chic, and even a little bit sexy. She said she welcomes anyone to come into the store, say hi and see how the bags make them feel. Even if people don’t walk out with a purchase, she hopes the visit makes their day a little bit brighter.
“After nearly two years of social isolation brought by Covid, people are hungry for social connectivity,” said. “Simply returning to in-person stores is something people crave. People have told me how much they miss picking up a beautiful, textured handbag and enjoying the smell and feel of fine leather.”
SUSU is open at 2400 Main Street from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.