When it comes to our design process, for us, each season brings new challenges and exciting opportunities. Today we want to share a little bit more of what goes into the making of each of our collections.
For starters, with each season, Chloe and I usually start by taking inspiration from things we’ve come across over the past few months. These elements can range from a handbag silhouette we’ve passed on the street (and probably shamelessly asked to take a picture of), vintage designs from an old movie (that I’ve likely forced Chloe to watch with me), or lessons we’ve learned about different cultures from our travels. That typically leaves us with way too many ideas, so we spend a few weeks working with our team to pick the standouts from the group. We then pull it all together with subtle details to create a cohesive suite of products. Many of our silhouettes will be used season after season, so we are always making sure they feel fresh, yet timeless, current, yet classic.
Once establishing the cohesive thread for each collection, we work very closely with our designer to maintain a collaborative process. While Chloe and I have a lot of ideas, neither of us has formal design training — and trust me, you wouldn’t want to see our chicken scratch illustrations! With that said, we usually plan our first design meeting about a year ahead of when the season will launch. We all come to the table with magazine tears, screenshots, illustrations, and all the different pieces of inspiration we’ve acquired. We talk through concepts, colors, and shapes and pose questions like: Are we focused on structure and aesthetic? Is there both a relaxed look and function?
We’d like to think that by considering ALL of the options, this makes our design process that much more thoughtful. It’s also an opportunity for us to get excited about what our girl will respond to (our team included)! For example, we were excited by the warmth of the suede materials contrasted with the clean silhouettes present in our recent fall collection. We’ve worked with suede before, but the fall hues saturated the material so well and made for a such a beautiful palette. In the spring, we’re looking forward to introducing some pattern play into our product offering. We will be bringing in some new patterned materials on some of our classic shapes as well as one or two new silhouettes.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the visual details, we’ve made it a point to only move forward with the products that check both the fashion and function boxes. We usually leave these meetings having settled on a few concepts and anxiously await for the initial tech packs (aka design drawings) that come within the following weeks. Ranging from four to six concepts, our designer comes back with two or three versions of each. We then go through them adding this handle to that bag, or taking a detail from the first bag and repurposing for another style in the bunch. Once we receive edits back from that, we’re off to the races, and the tech packs get sent off to our factory.
So, this is our process in a nutshell – but that doesn’t mean it always goes according to plan! And while we’ve faced obstacles and setbacks along the way, we’ve found that these mistakes can often lead to unexpected creative discovery. For us, the design process is a perpetual learning curve, but at the end of the day, we’re happy to put out products that embody fashion, function, AND accessible luxury – even if we don’t always know how that will turn out. But so far we like what we see and hope that you do too.
– Neely Burch