As a person who carries pretty much everything but the kitchen sink with me everyday, I am constantly on the look out for a roomy, functional and beautiful bag. I have spent the last year with a fairly attractive but completely impractical everyday bag, which I am now happy to replace with my new, roomier, prettier and definitely more practical friend - The Chloe.
My gorgeous new bag is by Australian label The Bag Department, which was launched by Elise Townsend in 2012. With a practical and interactive concept, The Bag Department gives you the option to customise a pick of three classic and versatile bags, The Madison, The Chloe or The Coachella, allowing you to choose the colour of your leather, hardware and handle for a fun little way to add your own touch to the product.
I’ve been keeping my eye on this great Melbourne label for a little while now, and last month I was the lucky winner of a competition which was held by The Bag Department and Drop Dead Gorgeous Daily (you can check out my entry here).
Elise was kind enough to take some snaps of her working space. I then caught up with her, at Crabapple Kitchen for some delicious brunch, to claim my prize and a have a chat about her exciting new bag line.
What made you start your own bag label?
I started my own bag label after struggling to find quality classic leather bags at a reasonable price. I was frustrated as a customer and wanted to create an online platform where customers felt involved in the creative process. I have always wanted to run my own business and the idea of allowing customers to create their own bags from a curated collection was the perfect opportunity.
What do you think are the absolute essentials in a woman’s bag collection?
I believe there are only five essential bags and everything else is a derivative of them.
2. Hip Bag
3. Small tote
4. Medium/large everyday bag
Once you have the basic sizes you can start to play with your colours to match your wardrobe. This is what we do at The Bag Department. We currently have styles 3, 4 and 5 and will be expanding to all five essential bags by the end of the year. In terms of colours I think it is essential to have a black bag, something neutral be it Chocolate, Tan, Beige or Cream and something fun like Red, Navy or Giraffe print. I believe you should invest in classic colours first and if you want something fun invest in a classic trend like Red, Navy or Animal print.
Do you have a favourite bag from your current collection?
I love all three styles, they have all been designed to be classic styles that will never go out of fashion. They all come in classic colours that will never date so it is really tricky to choose only one. My favourites this week are the Tan/black/cream combination in the Madison, Cream with gold hardware in the Chloe and the Black with gunmetal in the Weekender. I find that all styles work seamlessly with my wardrobe – it is impossible to pick a favourite.
What inspires your bag design and creative decisions?
My designs and creative decisions are inspired by an infinite number of things. In terms of bag design I am inspired by the world around me. It could be a colour or shape I see whilst out walking or a current trend in a magazine. These inspirations then get tied back with The Bag Department brand values of being classic and functional.
My creative decisions are inspired by my customers; I created The Bag Department for them. I ask my customers a lot of questions to create the best possible creative decisions for The Bag Department. As you can tell from the detail in each bag, to the website design; every creative decision at The Bag Department has been done with the customer in mind.
What is your favourite part of the design and production process as a bag designer?
My favourite part of the design and production process is when the samples arrive. I get to see what I have designed as a sketch come to life in the form of a bag. I must admit I do love the whole process and enjoy every step from idea to sketch to final result. It is all extremely exciting and still fascinates me everyday.
If you could design a bag for anyone in the world, who would it be?
This is a really tough question because the whole premise of The Bag Department is getting my customers involved in the process of creating a bag for themselves. I would love Olivia Palermo to design a bag with The Bag Department, she is such an inspiration.
What is next for the label? Where do you see the brand going in the future?
The next immediate step for The Bag Department (which is currently in motion) is expanding the range to the five essential bag styles. I will also be adding some bag accessories and expanding the curated selection of the already existing styles. Something to look forward to is The Bag Departments online magazine that will be distributed quarterly to our subscribers, first issue out August 1st. I am very excited to share that we will have an interview and style advice from Lauren DiBartolo, Director of Australian Styling Institute amongst other fabulous features. If you sign up online today you will receive $25 off of your first order. Sign up now > http://eepurl.com/AP8gH
In the future I see The Bag Department being in every woman’s wardrobe as their staple bag of choice. There are lots of things to be excited about for the future of the brand that I cannot disclose at this time, so stay tuned.
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start his or her own business in fashion accessories?
In the words of Winston Churchill…“Never never never give up”.
Fail Fast. Learn from and listen to your customers. Make sure you have a point of difference. Above all work hard and do your research, if you are not willing to put your heart and soul into your business then don’t bother. Harsh, but so is reality.
How would you describe your personal style?
I think my style comes out in the outfits I create with Polyvore for my social media accounts. It is a comfortable, classic, polished look with a few trend pieces thrown in for good measure.
I absolutely love your blog and Facebook page, it’s so upbeat and always has some wonderfully inspirational imagery and quotes. What’s your favourite quote. Or personal motto?
Thank you that is so sweet. One of my favourites is “We are what we repeatedly do.” Aristotle. For me it is a reminder that I am in charge of my life and everything that I do. Only I can create what I want for my future. On a lighter note I also love; “My Daily Routine: Wake up, Be awesome, Go back to sleep.” Cheeky and to the point!
You can follow the bag department on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/thebagdepartment Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thebagdept Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thebagdept Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/thebagdept
Pretty skies / Dancing the night away / Celebrating Mother’s Day / 1st day of training for October fun run / Finally mine!!!! THE Life With Bird Dress / Charlie’s Angels bonfire party (naturally)
if you so wish, you can follow me at @lucianacorrales
With the colder weather settling in, I’ve been craving super simple, cozy winter weekend outfits. I just feel like keeping it classic, comfortable and easy. What are you planning on wearing this weekend?
Photos by The Animal Orchestra
The other day one of my friends asked me to recommend some of the blogs I follow, as she wanted some new inspiration. I follow hundreds of blogs (no exaggeration), but I definitely have my favourites, which i look forward to with each new post. So I thought it would be a great idea to also share some of these favourites with you all.
First up, this month, is one of my favourite Australian blogs The Animal Orchestra by the lovely Nadia Bailey. Although Nadia’s style is very different to my own, I find it extremely inspiring. Flick through the pages of her blog, and you will see there is a very strong black theme in her styling. A great amount of minimalist garments mixed with the most exquisite chunky Mania Mania jewellery, and interesting hair pieces. She really has a way of making her outfits her own, I love how a delicate Lover dress suddenly becomes more edgy and original in the way she wears it! Not to mention, she also has the most beautiful photography.
Nadia was kind enough to answer a few questions for LiLT. Thanks again Nadia, I look forward to many more of your posts! xo Luciana
How long ago did you start “The Animal Orchestra”, and what made you want to do it?
The blog has had a couple of incarnations, but the version that you see now came about in May 2010, just after I moved from Melbourne to Sydney. I’d finished my university degree and wasn’t quite sure how to get where I wanted to go – namely, the fashion industry – so I started my blog as a way to explore my interest both in fashion and writing. It’s also a somewhat selfish exercise – a place to indulge in writing about the ideas and aesthetics that interests me.
How did you choose the name of the blog?
I liked the way the words sound together – it’s an oddly evocative phrase. The Animal Orchestra is also the name of a cafe and the title of a children’s story book.
How would you describe your personal Style?
I have two conflicting facets in me: there’s the me that wants to dress in sleek minimalism (leather, clean lines and simplicity; Rick Owens and Dion Lee) and the me that wants to draw on a dreamy, romantic aesthetic (lace, wide-brimmed hats, ornate jewellery; Lover The Label and ManiaMania). Sometimes I struggle to reconcile these two aspects, but I’m learning to embrace both!
What are the top 5 things you think are absolutely essential in ones wardrobe?
I can’t really speak to what is essential in other people’s wardrobes, but for me, the following are key: a pair of leather leggings, cropped at the ankle; a plain white t-shirt; a pair of ankle boots both beautiful and functional; a piece of jewellery that has been created especially for you and a tube of MAC Russian Red lipstick.
What is your favourite part of blogging? The community – I have met so many amazing people through blogging (shout out to my girl Alicia at Sea of Ghosts!), and it’s constantly rewarding to connect with people here and all over the world.
I have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting (like millions of others) for this movie to hurry up and come out! Finally the countdown can begin as it will open in cinemas in exactly 10 days.
I am so excited to see this movie, and especially so because of the collaborations that Production and Costume designer Catherine Martin has set up in order to create, what looks like is going to be, an incredible world of 1920′s fashion.
Check out these videos on the exciting collaborations. Now…who wants to get all dressed up and come see it with me on the 30th?