Friday, August 6, 2010

The Exclusive Interview with Andrea Crouse

We had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Crouse, hand bag designer for Kate Spade.
We are grateful to Ms. Crouse for taking time out of her very busy schedule to speak with us.
We met with Crouse in Manhattan's dynamic district of Chelsea. Crouse, a young, hip, New York City girl, is originally from Aimes, Iowa. She received her degree in Apparel Design from Iowa State University. After which she did a one-year study abroad program at the London College of Fashion, and has taken continuing professional courses at Parsons.

   Andrea Crouse "The Designer"

How did you decide you wanted to be a designer?

All my life I’ve loved drawing and by the time I was a teenager, I was very much into art and art history. When the time came to decide what to study in college, I really wanted to continue studies in art, but I thought fashion would be a more lucrative career in a creative field. Since that decision I became completely enthralled by fashion and haven’t turned back since! To be a fashion designer you are constantly drawing and sketching, working with color, materials and proportion. It’s a challenge to keep up with its pace, but that’s what keeps me interested. There will always be something more exciting to keep working for.

Why did you decide to be a handbag designer?

Once I learned how to sew in college, I was very excited by all the things I could make. I started to make hats and other accessories for my friends. I really liked the ease of not having to worry about fit - accessories can be much more sculptural. Handbags have also become far more interesting in recent years, and their importance in the market has skyrocketed.

So, how did your design adventure begin?

My internship in London was my first exposure to handbags. I was a design intern at Pauric Sweeney Bags, a small luxury fashion house that has since relocated to Florence. In 2007, I moved to New York. My first jobs were freelance design work: I worked for brands including Mexx, Oscar by Oscar de la Renta, Adrienne Landau and Kate Spade.

How long have you been working as a designer for Kate Spade?

I started two years ago as a freelance designer, then took a position as a technical designer, and have since worked my way into the handbag design team.

What are your work hours like?

Designers notoriously work long hours. We work 40 hours a week, and often more when deadlines are near.

Do you have deadlines you have to meet?

We are always working on several seasons at a time and the deadlines are frequent for sample production.

What’s the hardest thing about being a designer?

As a creative person you always have many ideas, and it can be a challenge to filter those to a specific brand, particularly any time you move around between brands. Once you have that, your goal is to create something that your customer absolutely can’t live without.

What do you get inspired by when you design?

Art, architecture, travel, films, stylish friends, vintage designs and old magazines. Those are usually the first places I look, but I can draw inspiration from just about anything.

                                    The Kate Spade Brand

How would you define the Kate Spade customer?

She is a curious and playful woman. She is dynamic and so is her wardrobe.

There are so many handbag designers out there, what makes the Kate Spade brand unique?

When Kate Spade launched her brand in 1993, she sought to fill a void in the market for a simple, classically chic handbag. Color and graphic elements became important in her designs. Deborah Lloyd, who stepped into the role of creative director in 2007 after Kate sold the company, continues these traditions all while making it relevant to fashion today.

Can you tell us about the stages of a handbag design?

Deborah assembles her inspirations she has collected over some months into the story of the season. The design team then sketches into her vision, and over several meetings, sketches get added and edited. Samples are made, more edits occur, and after a few months the collection is ready to be shown.

Do you think there is a direct relationship between the size of a woman and the size of their bag? In other words, should short women use a certain size or style of bag? Tall women? Large women?

The great thing about handbags is that there is no size chart and you’ll never have to diet to wear the bag of your dreams. The most important thing is to match your handbag to your personality and your needs.

In your opinion is there a type of handbag that each woman should have in her closet?

Just like shoes, one handbag is never enough. There are different bags appropriate for different occasions, such as a professional look for work, a practical bag for the baseball game, a casual look for the beach, and an evening bag for that special occasion. A woman’s handbag collection develops over time.

  Andrea Crouse's Style

How many bags does Andrea Crouse have in her closet?

At least a couple dozen. Sample sales are a big perk to working in the industry!

Is there a particular bag that you just can’t live without or one that you would consider a symbol of your style?

I often carry the Small Coal, a decent-sized tote. Living in the city, I stay very busy and don’t have the luxury of keeping things in my car as I used to. I also like to change bags with the season. I’m currently looking forward to warm weather to wear straw bags with sandals and breezy dresses.

Small Coal

  Trends for the Season

Could you tell us about the must haves for Spring/Summer 2010?

The Villa Mae is a classic handbag with a lot of personality. This season it comes in a shiny goathide that is dressed up by a chain handle and the signature Kate Spade pyramid turnlock.

Villa Mae

The Kansas City Claudia is a versatile tote with a front pocket just the size to hold a paperback book.
Kansas City Claudia

I’ve been carrying the Tarrytown Lou that perfectly fits my laptop and accessories, all while remaining feminine and fashionable.
Tarry Town Lou

Is there a particular trend we should watch out for this season?

Straw bags are everywhere this season. The Kate Spade interpretation is colorful, graphic and fun. We have straw bags with ribbon woven through, some with sequin stripes, and others with bright colored trim.

Elif Kavakci for HijabiTopia

1 comment:

  1. I love kate spade!! Brooklyn Heights Stevie is my current fave :)
    Thanks for featuring such a great designer.