Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fashion Week New Orleans 2012 and Upcycled Suede Fringe Handbags

Interesting week for Uptown Redesigns last week here in New Orleans.  I participated in Fashion Week New Orleans 2012 as a vendor in the Style Lounge.  That was three nights of selling bags and chatting with awesome new clients, media, boutique owners, designers, and fashionistas in and around New Orleans.  Very cool!

Here's the pre-show set-up...  Got a chance to watching it all come together and turn into a very chic event!
The runway - before

Lots of pre-show runway prep and practice by models and designers

And here's my little booth area...  It was a tight squeeze with minimal options, but we made it work!

Models still meeting with designers and having final fittings... Boutique owners finalizing their booth displays...

behind the scenes

And then the shoppers arrived!  Uptown Redesigns looks good on these ladies!

But the most exciting part for me was seeing three of my bags on the runway during Green Serene's fashion show.  So awesome!  Of course, I was watching the show more than photographing, so these images are unfortunately not perfect, but you get the idea.  The fringe looked fabulous, and had such great swishing movement on the models as they worked the catwalk.  Something must have been right, because 2 out of 3 of those bags sold immediately after they came off the runway and back into my booth!  Fringe is HOT this season!

Check out that fringe movement!

The crowd was eating it up!

Wow - all three bags up there at once!

I have to admit - it was a really cool event.  I was impressed with everybody on stage and off, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Way to go New Orleans!  Looking forward to next year already!

See more new fringe handbags currently available for purchase at:
Upcycled Bags Handmade in New Orleans

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quality over Quantity

I keep thinking about this article I read today (Ethical Style - What Happened to Made in USA?) - which discusses the sad disappearance of the apparel manufacturing industry in the USA. It struck me on so many levels...

First, and most obviously - making things in America - this is what I do and what my entire business is about. I make high-quality, hand-crafted, customized leather handbags locally - specifically for intended for durability and long-term use by clients and customers. And in doing this I support a local economy, and have become a functional part of the community. And as an eco-bonus, I also utilize recycled materials to further reduce waste and to salvage materials that truly deserve another shot at life. But admittedly what really motivates me to do what I do is the design aspect - the magic of making something out of nothing for somebody, and doing it with my own hands. I usually figure that if I am going to work that hard at making something, I might as well make it top-notch and produce the best item I possibly can so somebody can enjoy and use it for years to come. This is not about manufacturing speed and efficiencies - this is about local craftsmanship. And so, I have created a specialized alternative to the overseas manufacturing of leather handbags.

But the article also struck me on another level. I am always so taken by stories of the days when clothes were individually sewn and tailored for specific people - not for the generic mass market. I wish I had been around when everybody strived to put together a personally individualized, high-quality wardrobe that was built to last. What happened to taking time to personally select textiles to suit your style and having garments hand crafted for you? I suspect that if you take the time to select the fabrics you want and have individualized fittings, that you end up with something you completely love and wear over and over again. It is a true statement of your style, and the quality craftsmanship will allow the garment to be worn for years to come. I yearn for those days!

But the article left me with some important basic thoughts - which help me validate what I do as I continue to grow this business. What I am building is not the next gigantic mass-production of super-trendy, sought-after designer handbags. What I strive to do is to build a more hands-on and specialized business, and to build cool and stylish products locally that people understand, appreciate, and truly value. All while doing something I truly love to do.

Here are a few words that resonated with me from that article:

"The disappearance of Made in USA clothes seems almost inevitable. But recent years have brought a small resurgence in demand for clothing made here. We want fairly made clothing, better-quality materials, and support for local businesses and workers. Still, given the labor intensity of sewing and quick turnaround times of fashion, it's doubtful we'll ever come close to a reprise of large-scale local garment production. Instead, we should focus on supporting the niche markets here: high quality custom-made clothing and independent labels with skilled manufacturing capabilities that emphasize ethics over trends. We are in the middle of a sea change of clothing consumption. Perhaps someday, the values underpinning our reliance on mass production will falter, and we'll dress to a new paradigm: Quality over quantity."
Upcycled Bags Handmade in New Orleans