Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Featured Designer

Erin is the designer behind howl. handbags and is in the spotlight as our featured designer this month. We carry her line of suede and leather bags, and absolutely adore her quality craftsmanship, attention to details, and her fun style.

How was howl. handbags born?

As silly and mystical as it might sound, howl. sort of always existed somewhere in my consciousness. I've always been frustrated by a seemingly homogeneous landscape of apparel and accessories, and have such always wanted to launch my own line that would meet my needs and aesthetic.The motivation I lacked in getting started actually launching the label finally came when I had to come to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to find the kind of satisfaction in my day job as I had initially hoped. I had tons of ideas, and though I'd always been a self-taught creator and fixer of things, I knew I lacked the polished skills I needed in order to really get serious about designing. So I did the only sensible thing I could come up with, took a few classes, bought too much pretty fabric, and got started sewing. I quickly discovered the nuances of fit in regards to apparel were a little overwhelming; to be honest, I was crap at making clothes. But what I then discovered is that the geometric world of handbag design fit my passions and abilities just right. Not long thereafter, howl. was born. :)

What materials do you use, and where do you get them?

I LOVE leather. Forgive my controversial enthusiasm, but I can't deny it. For handbags, leather is undeniably the most versatile, durable and rich materials you can use. To keep cost down and resources sustainable, I started using reclaimed materials whenever possible. Many of my pieces come from old coats, pants, skirts, etc. I've found that this is my favorite way to source materials, because, being kind of a literary nerd, I've always loved the stories that might be hidden in these pieces. Some of my favorites have been cut from objects that have colorful travel logs, like used burlap coffee bean sacks and my father-in-law's motorcycle chaps. It's exciting to take something that has a history of its own and then send it out into the world to have completely new adventures.

What in your daily life, or in the art world, influences your design?

Oh, just about everything. I'm constantly absorbing shapes, colors and textures around me and dreaming up relationships between them that excite me. Often, the materials I source inspire their own designs; other times, I draft out a pattern that goes unused for months, until one day it comes to life. I trend toward a very organic (some might say undisciplined... ;) ) method when I work on my designs, and I find that often that results in the best, most unique pieces.

What excites you the most about what you do?

I've always had a need to put things together. This certainly satisfies that need, but what surprises and excites me the most is how joyful the people are who carry my bags and wear my accessories. I understand the inevitable link between a person's appearance and the way they feel, and to see my pieces inspire confidence in someone else just about makes me giddy.

Is there any new howl. project, or other artistic endeavor in the works right now?

I've started expanding howl. to include fashion jewelry and accessories. I still adore handbags, and it's still the label's main focus, but I've found it's helpful for me during the design process to have another outlet in order to keep things fresh. I used to make jewelry when I was in high school and found that I haven't lost my love for poking around with tiny things. Plus, sewing leather can try the hands, eyes, back and patience, so smaller items give me a little breather, while still allowing me to create.

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