Rachel Nasvik has been a girl crush and designer crush of mine for a decade now. I met her when our kids were in kindergarten together, but I already knew of her because her classic, beautifully made leather bags were a cult fashion item, and on every downtown NY It-girl's arm. I'm thrilled to have her collection in the store. They're that perfect blend of classic, beautifully made with gorgeous materials, and carry with them the aura of effortless chic.
Rachel herself embodies the same qualities: she too is effortlessly chic with a lacing of downtown edge.
I recently sent her a few questions.. plumbing the creative process is always a thrill, and Rachel doesn't disappoint!
How did you get started in handbags and what draws you to them particularly?
While I was in my last year at FIT for Fashion Design, I got inspired to do a small denim wallet. It had two pockets on the back (like the back of a pair of jeans), and a zipper top. I found a small factory in the garment district to make 100 pieces for me, which was my very first experience with production. When they were done, I shopped them around the city and found a few boutiques that agreed to take them on consignment. Around the same time, Lucky Magazine featured the wallets on the back page, and they sold out in a few days!
When I look back on that experience now, it’s easy to see how it changed things for me. It gave me the confidence to think about starting my own line, and transition into another category. I had a lot of supportive people around me at the time, which also played a major role. When I got pregnant with my son shortly after, I decided to go for it and start my own business.
What I love most about bags….. I love that they become a part of your life. They travel with you every day - through thick and thin. Almost like a security blanket, or best friend. There is a lot of love that goes into a bag, which makes it very personal for me.
What’s your process like? design wise, material selection, manufacturing?
I start each season with a few bag shapes that really excite me. After that I begin to visualize specific details that can be worked into the bags in different ways. The design process always feels like a journey to me - so much changes from beginning to end!
Regarding material selection, I have a few articles of leather I tend to stick with each season. The tried and true that I know is going to last. I’m always a sucker for warm combos like suede, leather and solid brass.
All of my bags are made in Union City, New Jersey. Keeping things local allows me to be very involved in the sampling and manufacturing process, which is important to me. It always takes a few tries to get a new style right, so it’s incredibly helpful to work directly with the sample maker. After that we decide on the best fillers, materials, and construction techniques together. It’s awesome to get to know the bag inside and out - literally.
Where do you find your inspiration?
That’s always a hard question because I feel inspiration can come from anywhere. What’s going on in my life, places I’ve been, people I’m surrounded by, fashion, colors, leather, seasons, etc. It all plays into a collection. However, for specific details I’m most often inspired by mens or women's outerwear. The pocket on a coat, a seam treatment, or the way a shoulder is pleated. Those types of details always seem to translate the best.
Do you have perennial favorite designers?
It’s kind of a mix, but I really like Elizabeth and James, ALC, Rag and Bone, Rachel Comey, OAK, Vince, Equipment, and Ulla Johnson. Also a friend of mine introduced me to Apiece Apart recently, which I’m loving as well.
How would you describe your aesthetic or signature style?
Classic + built to last.
You’ve been in NYC for many years now, what drew you, and how has it changed over the years? Got any favorite haunts you’d like to share?
I first moved here in 1998 to attend the Fashion Design program at FIT. New York was always on my radar growing up, but I never had a chance to visit and didn’t know what to expect. As the first year went by, I slowly began to realize all the things about New York that make it unique and different. The little things you become accustomed to - that make you fall in love and want to stay. Which is exactly what I did. How has it changed over the past 20 years? In SO many ways. But, I’ve changed a lot in that time too. It has influenced me in ways I never could have imagined, and has given me some of the best experiences of my life. I love that about this city.
Are there emerging trends that you find particularly exciting?
One bag trend that I’m really loving is the micro mini. I’m obsessed. It’s surprising how liberating it can be to pare down!
Where do you sell the bags? What types of stores do you sell to?
Since relaunching my business, I’ve mostly sold the bags through my site and a few select boutiques. I love being part of Diana Kane because we share similar brand philosophies, and I know the bags are in good company:)