After coming across an article in the October issue of VOGUE on the Texas based accessories company, Libby Lane Leather Goods, I was hoping to reach out to the designer and learn more about her products! Libby lives on her family’s fourth-generation cattle ranch in West Texas where she creates her gorgeous leather accessories.
N/S: Have you always known you wanted to launch a handbag line? Why handbags? How long did it take to launch the company from the idea to the product?
Libby Lane: I didn’t always know that I wanted to launch a handbag line. It took me a few years of working with leather and casually designing bags before I came to that realization. I found myself touring tanneries, working with saddlemakers, and visiting mink farms in the countryside near Chicago. It was more of a natural progression than a conscious decision.
When I decided to launch my own line, I really took my time on the source of the leather and design of the handbag. Each piece in my line is practical yet chic. Once the new designs were seen, it spread from city to city so quickly. I really didn’t expect to be in this situation back when I started as a saddlemaker’s apprentice in a small West Texas town.
N/S: What do you think makes your accessories different than others on the market?
Libby Lane: My accessories are all handmade in Texas from domestically sourced leather. There are many meticulous steps in the process – from choosing the leather to the final crafted piece. My company is very specialized in that each piece of leather has its own, unique history and each piece of my line is individually handcrafted. It is a commitment that people appreciate.
N/S: How would you describe your handbags to someone unfamiliar with your line? Who do you envision carrying them?
Libby Lane: I usually describe my bags as chic and minimalistic. They have a clean architectural line quality. This is seen so clearly because the minimalist design is accentuated by thick leather and not cluttered with unnecessary ornamentation.
Libby Lane featured in Vogue, October 2012
N/S: How has being a Texan influenced your designs and products? Was it only natural to work with leather?
Libby Lane: I’m smiling. Yes, I suppose it makes sense that as a Texan I love working with leather. Leather craftsmanship is ingrained in me from my childhood on the ranch. I appreciate the simple and pragmatic quality of leather. Leather is appreciated to its highest capacity in Texas because of its constant, hands-on use. Texans seem to really understand the multiple customs that the cattle industry brings to our everyday lives.
N/S: Your products are chic while retaining a look of durability – would you say even at their accessible price point for a luxury product, they are a “forever piece?”
Libby Lane: My main point when launching my line was to create a chic product in a durable, minimalistic design. I wanted a gorgeous bag that would last as long as a cowboy’s saddle bag. My technique harnesses the traditional craft of the saddlemaker. I wanted a sleek design backed by a durability worthy of a “forever” staple piece.
N/S: What has been the greatest achievement of Libby Lane Leather thus far? The greatest challenge?
Libby Lane: I’d say the greatest achievement is to reach a high end market that still understands the realities of life. By that I mean the hustle and bustle of work, travel, and daily errands. We all need a chic bag at our side during the momentum of life. You can look great while being in full mode. The greatest challenge is there are not enough hours in the day, but creating and maintaining my company has been an extraordinary experience.
N/S: Where do you find your inspiration for your pieces? Who or what inspires you?
Libby Lane: I am forever inspired by the Old West. There is an unassuming loveliness to the historical way of life in Texas. Antique leather designs are still in working order today. I love the simple fact that tried and true practical things last the longest. Thick leather and sturdy stitching is stuff that works … stuff that holds up.
As for my design aesthetic, I adore American Abstract Expressionist Paintings like those of Franz Kline and Clyfford Still. I connect with the simplistic line qualities and natural colors. Being a graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I will forever be inspired by fine art and high fashion.
N/S: Do you have a best-selling item?
Libby Lane: There are items that sell more than others. The V Tote is leading among the larger bags. For the smaller pieces, the H Clutch as well as the P Latigo Strap are very popular.
N/S: What has been the biggest surprise from owning your own business thus far?
Libby Lane: It is a lot of hard work, but there is a certain satisfaction that comes from actualizing your own idea and having people enjoy it. At times the responsibility is almost overwhelming, but like Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.”
N/S: Any news or exciting plans you can share with us regarding Libby Lane?
Libby Lane: I will always keep my staple pieces, but I do have a few really fun designs coming soon! I love creating new pieces and cannot wait to introduce them, so keep an eye out!
N/S: What is the absolute must-have closet staple accessory you’ve designed for fall?
Libby Lane: I absolutely have to have my V Tote! My life gets crazy sometimes, so I always depend on that bag. Sometimes I feel like the bag is carrying me through the day and not vice versa!
N/S: What designers, people, places influence and inspire you?
Libby Lane: There are a handful of designers that constantly amaze me, such as Consuel Constiglioni for Marni, Oscar De La Renta, and Phoebe Philo for Celine. Traveling seems to influence me greater than most things, though. Over the years, I’ve traveled from Ecuador to Belgium and all over the United States. I gain inspiration from the different lifestyles and cultural variety that each place offers. It is very exciting to expose yourself to many places, people, and things as possible. It helps you stay refreshed and inspired.
N/S: What are you must excited about this fall? How would you describe your own personal style?
Libby Lane: I am so very excited for fall; it is my favorite time of the year! It’s my time to pull on my ankle clog boots and my favorite Isabel Marant sweater coat. Then I can do all the things I love – travel the world, read classic westerns, and drink hot tea anytime of the day.
N/S: You reside in the country? Do you ever miss being in the city – Chicago?
Libby Lane: I miss certain aspects of the city (like sipping my favorite Latte from a cute bakery in SoHo), but honestly I love the peacefulness of the country. It allows me to think clearly and relax deeply while at my busiest. I do leave ample time for traveling, which is really important to me. Travel refreshes my outlook and mood, and it allows for inspiration and motivation to remain at a high level.