Big beach bags, beach totes, fanny packs, backpacks, clutches, baguettes, envelope bags, add-the-Bag-Bible 101, the latitude of bag options out there is as wide as that between the US East and West Coasts. The question arises… In this beachwaves-melting heat, how do we keep a cool vibe at hand plus sweaty-palms-handy?
“I’m thinking balls are to men, what purses are to women. It’s just a little bag but we’d feel naked in public without it.” Very Carrie.
It is the recurring summertime conundrum as we contemplate beach and bar: How many bags should we throw in the suitcase? Sailor stripes, straw and woven beachbags carry within the ability to go from day to night… Now, I myself cannot be bothered to look after a monstrosity filled with everything and anything beach-related whilst lounging around at cocktail hour. Nevertheless, going bag-less is not a style board option either for your truly; perhaps that oldtimer fanny-pack can this time round accompany my Old-Fashioned. “I’m thinking balls are to men, what purses are to women. It’s just a little bag but we’d feel naked in public without it.” Very true, Carrie Bradshaw.
Two women who surely and happily partake in our specially setup Whatsapp groupchats pondering the summer super-sized or two-toned must-packs from SPFs to SKTs, a little fashion abbreviation 101 for ya right here, are East Coast-born Tiffany and West Coast-raised Lynn of the recently crowned 2016 International Independent Handbag Design Awards for Best Style & Design HEIRLOOM bag brand. In a New York state of mind and ready to pick their brains, we set up a little groupthink to cover everything “bag”. From beach to bar, from metallic to glitter, the HEIRLOOM ladies leave no pebble stone unturned. Dive right in, dearies!
“We wanted to mix urban-yet-timeless silhouettes with polished hardware and popping colors, but mostly we emphasized the bag’s minutiae to enhance user experience!” HEIRLOOM.
Temper: Headed for HEIRLOOM. How was your trip?
HL: “Lynn was born in Taiwan and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 3. I [Tiffany] was born in New York City and lived in 5 different cities across Asia and the US before settling down in Shanghai. After graduating college, Lynn was a graphics designer with AVEX records and I found myself at Ogilvy PR. Prior to HEIRLOOM, I was always a bag fanatic and made it a key-point to obtain that one seasonal IT bag. Lynn’s family, then, has always been in the handbag business [for over 35 years at this point], from creating their own brand to manufacturing. Our parachute lifestyle, i.e. traveling between the US and Asia for both work and leisure, lead us to brainstorming on how to create a travel accessories brand to accommodate our on-the-go lifestyle. We wanted to mix urban-yet-timeless silhouettes with polished hardware and popping colors, but mostly we emphasized the minutiae of the bag to enhance user experience!”
Temper: About totes and travels, how does a bag become user-friendly?
HL: “As larger bags started to become trendy, so did their size become increasingly less functional to tote around, let alone travel, with. It was a difficult task finding things in your large tote, rummaging around for keys and cards and cellphones. With this idea in mind, it extended far further than we could have ever imagined. In order to do this whole bag design thing right, we quit our comfortable jobs and moved to the manufacturing city of Dongguan in China’s Guangdong Province. This was a huge culture and lifestyle shock for both of us, but we knew proper handbag design training was a very necessary step to build a solid foundation. Throughout the first year and a half, Lynn and I slept in the factory’s dorm room on a double bed, ate dorm food and drove hours on end to the nearest Walmart to spend our Sundays off.”
The HEIRLOOM logo, which is fused into the front of the Lil Twin Tote, is a mix of East and West, just like we ourselves are.
Temper: From your Dongguan digs to Shanghai swishiness: Road trip?
HL: “Dongguan is an industrial town without much commercialism. During our time there, we put our efforts into learning the trade and working with many international renown luxury handbag brands on development and production. We also spent time in tanneries and hardware factories, learning to distinguish the different types of leathers and materials — and obviously the overall manufacturing process. After the first year, as we were sitting in our small shared factory office, the name HEIRLOOM was decided upon. The term ‘HEIRLOOM’ in itself holds many different meaningful layers. Lynn’s family has been in the handbag business for over 35 years, and this brand was a way to carry on the family’s heritage in handbags. We also name each bag after friends, family and meaningful places to let them forever be part of our story. The logo, which is fused into the front of the Lil Twin Tote, is a mix of East and West, just like we ourselves are. It uses traditional Chinese lattice work design to embellish the letter ‘H’, creating an elegant yet timeless emblem. In 2009, we were ready to take our freshly acquired experiences and knowledge for a test drive. In June of that very same year, we then opened the doors to our first small boutique based in Shanghai, designing the store with plush chairs and framed shelving for a comfortable and cozy shopping environment.”
Temper: HEIRLOOM is traveling at the speed of light (or so it seems)?
HL: “Within five months, department stores came knocking and invited us into their projects. By 2015, we had six HEIRLOOM stores throughout China and Taiwan and more than 35 stockists worldwide. We have also worked with APPLE Retail in Asia to create a capsule collection of versatile laptop bags that were sold in their stores. In 2014, we even received an honorable mention in the prestigious Louis Vuitton City Guide as one of the shopping attractions to go to!”
Temper: Any HEIRLOOM fashion forecasts you’d like to share?
HL: “We personally select each season’s materials and colors based on trend forecasts and personal experience. The main material we work with is Italian or American cowhide in napa or pebbled. [On that note, the tanneries have given names for the brand-specific leathers, such as HEIRLOOM Toto and HEIRLOOM Shiny Venus.] We also use exotic skins on our bags to elevate the design to a still-affordable price point, allowing our customers to be able to experience these luxurious materials without breaking the bank. Our aesthetics can be described as ‘polished urban elegance’. It’s a bag that can be dressed up and down, for a work meeting or a boat trip; a bag that in itself creates a understated ‘WOW’ factor. We have a lot of fun designing for both summer and winter. In summer, the range of materials and colors is far wider. For example, in our SS16 collection, we used a lot of metallic leathers and glittery fabrications. These materials and colors are rarely seen with commercial brands and in this way we hope to fill in that niche with fun and unique products for the woman who likes something more original.”
The SS16 collection, inspired by a sense of nostalgia, captures everything from the beautiful colors of those California sunsets to the fun, eccentric backdrop of Pacific Park pier games.
Temper: “California Dreamin” or “New York State of Mind”?
HL: “We always love a little juxtaposition. We like to bring together two seemingly opposite elements for a contrasting pop. Our aesthetic is elegant, but always with a pinch of fun. I believe this notion stems from our Asian-American upbringing, and the bi-coastal influences between us. Our design inspiration can come from anything, whether it’s a piece of metal or architecture, or something we see on our travels. For this spring and summer, our theme was ‘California Dreamin’, inspired by the sense of nostalgia for the laid-back yet whimsical energy along Southern California’s golden coast. The SS16 collection captures everything from the beautiful colors of those California sunsets to the fun, eccentric backdrop of Pacific Park pier games, rides and entertainment on the Santa Monica pier.”
Temper: How to do, mix and match the HEIRLOOM style?
HL: “The blue and white cotton skies coated with gradients of purples, pinks and oranges are brought to life on supple napa leather using delicate, handcrafted techniques. A playful element, inspired by the aforementioned vibrant, neon lights of the oceanside theme park is depicted through the use of various brilliant, metallic leathers and unique sparkly, glittery textile. It’s a throw-back to our college days, spending time by the beach in Los Angeles. We are now, however, also coming out with a new product where the handbag is sold in separate pieces and can be mix and matched according to your own preference. Each season, you only need to purchase a new flap or a new handle to create an entirely new look. There is an idea of being environmental as well as versatility in the product line.”
China’s fashionable clientele has seen a huge shift from only purchasing brand names to now beginning to appreciate design and the story behind a brand.
Temper: HEIRLOOM finds itself in China. How does China find itself in HEIRLOOM?
HL: “The HEIRLOOM logo is a fusion of East and West, much like ourselves, using traditional Chinese lattice work design to embellish the letter ‘H’, creating an elegant yet timeless emblem. Chinese culture, too, is about being humble and understated. I think this is shown through our designs, where we use intricate detailing and hidden surprises within our products; something that can’t’ necessarily be seen on the outside, but only to the user. Our Asian-American upbringing is shown through the pop colors and fun materials with just as much importance attached to the interior design and functionality. Its about the wholesome modern day woman, the multi-tasker, the career woman and the doting mother. All the many roles women today have to play.”
Temper: From multi-brand stores to niche-branding: How do you see China’s fashionable scenery evolve?
HL: “China’s fashionable clientele has seen a huge shift from only purchasing brand names to now beginning to appreciate design and the story behind a brand. They are interested in getting to know the designer or the brand’s history. When we launched in 2009, there were very few multi-brand stores in China. The few that did exist, were all started up by foreigners who wanted to introduce new brands to the China scene and provide a wider range of products. Starting from late 2014, we have witnessed a huge wave of multi-brand stores, as well as the rise of Shanghai’s Fashion Week and showrooms. In addition to our own retail stores, we now work with an international showroom and several multi-brand stores throughout the country. This shift in thinking has allowed smaller niche brands to increase their exposure and provide various channels of sales.”
Temper: What’s on the HEIRLOOM horizon?
HL: “Ever since we won that 2016 International Independent Handbag Design Awards for Best Style & Design, we have started to receive even higher levels of interest in the HEIRLOOM brand… On an international level! We have had many international bloggers and celebrities carrying our bags and we hope to start selling at full force within the US in the near future. Our dream was to always open a store back in New York, and this actually may come true sooner than we could have hoped for!”
The HEIRLOOM ladies took their creative imaginations and ran with them. Like most designers out there, it’s a dream to have a creative outlet and to put it into actual street style worthy realization. It is, however, a path of no return. In other words, baggin’ both your dream and style finds itself in the mixing and matching of accessories — tote that around wherever you go and poof, you’re ready for take off!
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