There is something so admirable about designers who spend years learning the business designing for existing brands and then later channel it into a collection of their own. It’s like the consumers are getting the best of both worlds: a new designer with fresh ideas rooted in experience. Before launching her eponymous handbag collection Lindsey Nicole honed her skills at Nicholas Kirkwood Pollini, Judith Leiber, Calvin Klein, and Sam Edelman. Each of these brands represent a different customer in the marketplace and Nicole was able to design for each. Understanding who you’re designing for is a unique quality only experience gives a designer. And Nicole has this tenfold. Her bags are luxurious and functional, thoughtful and creative, and all made in Italy.
You’ve been designing for other brands for almost ten years- what all of a sudden sparked your entrepreneur spirit and made you launch your own line?
The time I spent at Sam Edelman really taught me a lot about the business of fashion and how to build an item that has a place and purpose in the market that is both compelling and available at an accessible, if not aspirational, price.
I set out to launch Lindsey Nicole handbags with that in mind. My goal is to create handbags that are made in Italy using fine Italian leathers and hardware, are uniquely approachable and are cut with an edge. It’s important that each lightweight and functional design we deliver not only stands apart in the market but also is exists in the daily lives of the customer, accompanying her on her adventures, travels and day to day routine.
And your time at Nicholas Kirkwood Pollini, Judith Leiber, and Calvin Klein- what did you take away from each of these experiences that you apply to your own collection?
I learned how to be fearless with color and treatments at Nicholas Kirkwood Polllini, how to create items that are fresh yet respect heritage at Judith Leiber and to build items from price point upwards at Calvin Klein. It’s really important with each brand to mold myself to their DNA while helping them grow and expand. It is with this combination of knowledge and skillset that I created Lindsey Nicole.
Describe your design process?
It’s organic and strategic. I like to go to the stores and see what is currently out in the market. From there I ask myself what’s missing? What would I carry? I start by sketching and then bringing the sketch to life in a paper model. It usually doesn’t end up looking like the sketch – as I make the model, I see different ways the handbag can be constructed. It’s important that each design is not only functional but also unique. From there I make a felt model and technical which is basically a short novel for the factory to make the prototype. Voila! Come market we are ready to show our new and exciting shapes!
Why did you choose Italy for production?
Italy is important to me for many reasons from the ethical nature in which we work with the factories and the heritage of generations of knowledge being carried down to each modellista. I have also learned a great deal from the modellistas I work with. The designs that we develop with the factory push against the grain of classic technique and we are always challenging each other to deliver the best rendition of the idea that was formed from the beginning. It’s a journey!
Do you spend a lot of time there now?
I go once a year. There is not much need for travel since I have an amazing product development specialist that is the liaison between the factory and Lindsey Nicole. Giving the factory a felt model to start also expedites the development process. Firenze is a lovely place. When I do go my favorite places to eat are Gurgulu and Konubio.
What are your favorite things to do when not working?
When I’m not working my favorite thing to do is climbing – whether it be bouldering or top rope. It’s super relaxing and clears my mind. I also enjoy going to museums and going to East Hampton, especially in the winter when it’s quiet. One of my best friends lives there and he takes us hiking and kayaking. My favorite spot is the walking dunes where the forest meets the sea. I also love travelling any chance I get. My husband was shooting a movie in Paris for two months recently so I decided to join him for a couple of weeks and we both actually considered moving there!
How would you describe the woman you are designing for?
She is strong, confident and ageless. She’s active and enjoys being out, discovering new places and travel. Her femininity and strength gives her a functional yet uniquely approachable fashion sense. Our goal is to shape a style that comes with ease for this woman.
Who are your favorite designers to see worn with your bags?
Brandon Maxwell – like his leather one sleeve mini dress with our Lindsey Nicole Ludlow Mini in Silver Crush. And Monse – I love an off the shoulder sweater / jogger pants look with the Lindsey Nicole Bedford Mini in Whiskey. Naeem Khan – I want this beaded jumpsuit to pair with Lindsey Nicole Bedford bucket – I love high low dressing. And Blazé Milano – like the tiger blazer with a relaxed tee and black denim with Lindsey Nicole Tribeca in Onyx.
Will you expand beyond handbags into other accessories?
I would love to expand into shoes and jewelry. For now we are focusing on building a strong collection of seasonless staples.
How do you see the line evolving?
Right now the handbags are structured and architectural. It would be great to add some softer shapes and maybe exotics.