What’s in a bag? We ask hand bag designer Tyler Ellis
Tyler Ellis, the daughter of the eponymous sportswear designer, Perry Ellis, is carving out a name for herself in the fashion industry with her luxurious handbag label – Tyler Alexandra. This month, The Sybarite takes a look at what makes Tyler’s handbags classical statement pieces and the process behind the creation of an exquisite quality handbag.
As design runs in her blood, there was never a question whether Tyler would one day venture into the world of design; but rather than designing clothes, like her father, she took an interest in something more particular – handbags. When asked what prompted her to start her own handbag label, she explains “I have always been drawn to classic and timeless accessories, so the Tyler Alexandra aesthetic has always been with me. I think accessories complete an outfit and really allow one’s personal style to shine, because most people are willing to go a little bit bolder when buying a bag, over let’s say a blouse. Accessories are the icing on the cake!”
And her collections are truly filled with bold, timeless pieces. One of her signature handbags, the Jamie Framed Clutch, features a classically subtle design with a uniquely noticeable handle almost resembling a doctors handbag. In her own words, “The Jamie bags are my take on a modernized doctor bag. The classic lines and sleek shapes of vintage doctor bags have always been an inspiration to me. I first came up with the idea for the Jamie doctor bags on a train from Paris to London and from there they evolved into the Jamie clutches.”
Understanding where a designer draws inspiration her inspiration from is always fascinating and for Tyler it is from traveling: “I love to travel and meet new people. Style is so different all over the world. To me, sitting down at a café and watching people is the greatest form of inspiration. From inspiration comes the realization part – translating the idea or concept into a quality product.”
So how does she crafts her designs into reality and how are the handbags made? “My bags are hand made in Florence by a father & son factory. The metal frame is laser cut out of bronze sheets of metal, then galvanized in either rose, yellow or white gold. After the hardware is completed the frames are sent to the factory where the bag is made by hand cutting the leathers or skins. The process takes between 8-10 weeks.” Although the process may be a lengthy one, one has to consider that this is a handbag that can be kept for generations – a modern take on handbags made to last a lifetime, we would say.
For customers wanting that extra personal touch Tyler Alexandra specializes in customization: “If a customer has a specific color he or she desires, we need a color reference in order to have the skins tanned to match, which takes about 8 weeks, and then another month to produce the actual bag. If we have the skins in stock, it takes about 8-10 weeks. We also just launched a special ‘build your own bag program’ with Neiman Marcus online, where you choose your hardware color, skin and shape of bag. I love how this allows the consumer to become part of the design process”.
Tyler Alexandra holds true to the definition of timeless luxury and in her words “I started Tyler Alexandra to bring back true luxury. Every detail, from my signature “Thayer Blue” lining, to the custom sliding lock on the Jamie bags, or the brass pinecone (which symbolizes the highest form of spiritual awakening) zipper pulls and feet, is not just a coincidence, it is all part of the luxury handbag experience which I think about constantly. My bags are hand made in Italy with the best leathers and exotic skins I have been able to find. Every Tyler Alexandra bag is representative of me and I want them to be the best they possibly can.”