PB: How did you get started in designing?
Andrew: To make a long story short, I literally fell into design. I started out in Medical school, and then decided that wasn’t for me so I got into Architecture and also decided that was too intense. I was kind of floundering between and I took a course and ended up with a mentor who kind of started me off in design. I always had interest and done things on my own but no formal kind of training and through that this whole world opened up where I could just take my ideas, paint them or throw them on paper. I started off doing home design, like architect style, design and home furnishings, and then somehow got into accessories and then more into the fashion part. It was nothing planned at all. I for sure knew that I had to do something creative but I didn’t know what that was.
PB: So if we asked you when you were 20 ,do you think you are going to be involved with handbags? Would your answer probably have been no?
Andrew: I would of been like “What, are you crazy!”
PB: You said that you really started off with accessories first, what kind of accessories were you working with?
Andrew: It was home furnishings, like textiles and furniture, that kind of thing. Then I met this lady in New York, who was literally always in leopard from head to toe. She had silver white hair, and was really cute and petite. I thought she was fascinating and I ended up signing up at F.I.T and taking a class with her, we were just making hats. Through that I meet some people and started making jewelry and then started doing stuff with underwear companies, and then it just kind of…I don’t know. I did also have a greeting card business, through that I started doing gifts, like cool gifts and stuff. Then I started doing freelance at a company… then I ended up taking a job there, and then just started creating and heading up an accessories division.
PB: How long have you been with Linea Pelle?
Andrew: Just three years now. It’s been crazy, very fast, and awesome, especially in the past year and a half. We have grown a lot, new management, and lots of much more positive energy… lots of great strategies going forward, and just kind of restructuring.
PB: In the past three years have you seen big change in the handbag lines?
Andrew: Yes for sure. I think part of the reason, and I don’t want it to be an excuse, but part of the reason I know, when I started I wanted more time initially to really put a line together, and there was pressure like now, Now, NOW. I felt like that was a determent to the line because I don’t think it was what it could of been, or really even what it should of been, I don’t think it was completely representative of the Linea Pelle world. There was a couple of OK things across a few seasons. I think it was like the second or third season when I started Dylan, it was just like ding! It was just like the color, the garment washed bag, the hardware, the look, and that was it. Then I found out before going to one of the trade shows, I think I found out like five days before, that I was going to get my own booth. So within five days I am here not there trying to do this booth. The booth was very white, great sign-age, dark shelves, and just a color assortment of Dylan’s on a wall. People went crazy, it was different, it was dramatic, it was color, again we do color really really well it is one of the things we are known for and the leather. Then it just became not a no-brainer but, I felt like this is exactly where it needs to be, now it’s about expanding and developing. Honestly, it is like anything it doesn’t happen over night, you kind of have to find your way and get into a groove. Sooner than later would of been better, but that’s OK. I think it has taken us to a really good place, I don’t think it made us break a spell or loose momentum or anything. I think maybe people expected something different but then that third season, they were like Oh this is what we have been waiting for, this is Linea Pelle. It was just like lights, bells, and whistles. People just got it, so it was a great moment.
PB: Do you think there has been any celebrity influence that has really helped also, or do you think it has been just more staying true to the brand and true to the whole growth process?
Andrew: I think it is more about staying true to the brand. The celebrity aspect happens to go as the icing on the cake, because I don’t know that we necessarily seek it as much as it comes to us. Yes, we are always interested of course, we are always like wouldn’t it be great if so and so had this bag, this is so perfect for them. And yes maybe we will send it to them maybe we won’t, maybe they find it on their own. Next thing you know were getting a letter, or an email, or a request saying ” Oh Ashley Tisdale, wants everything, wants everything in black.” So it is really a bi-product of it, but the beauty of it is that this company started with belts. Linea Pelle belts is a brand for the past five or six years. That inherently got us a celebrity following, we were in Southern California with all the great boutiques on Robertson and Melrose, so that just very naturally developed a celebrity following. It was very easy to transition that into handbags without really even trying. Now we have a very big celebrity association which has become one of our strengths. People come to us because of that, which is exciting because especially now more than ever. Culture, Pop culture, or whatever you want to call it, it is now even international. Everyone wants to know what somebody’s wearing, who they’re wearing, who their carrying, what’s on their feet, what’s on your shoulder, what’s on your hand, it has just become such a huge part of the culture that you can’t get around it.
PB: What do you think you would say is the most popular bag?
Andrew: I would say collection wise Dylan has probably been the most popular to date. But we had great success and really high sell through for Fall. I mean like the Samatha’s we chose the rock pyramid studs, and then the Nikki was really good, which actually I would love to bring that back, I loved that bag. I need to bring it back in a new life form but same name. But to date I would have to say the Dylan, because I try and reinvent it every two seasons, give it a novelty flare, every other season give it new color. So it is still wildly popular.
PB: How do you come up with the names for the bags?
Andrew: Honestly as I am doing them it usually just clicks. I will be working on it for a few days or whatever and I will be like oh great name and write it down.
PB: Do you feel like it stems from someone you know?
Andrew: Ok here’s a really weird thing, so for Fall I had the Samantha bags, and I happened to know a couple Samantha’s or Sam’s, it’s just a cute name you know. So I used that but then I did the same silhouettes but a different treatment and I ended up call it Sirena. Nobody got it but have you ever watched Bewitched, they have Samantha and her evil cousin Serena. I thought that was so cute, nobody might get it but I do. That’s all that matters, as long as I get a chuckle its all good. That was a very specific reference in end end it didn’t start out to be that way. But I was like, Well this is the Samantha bag, but it’s not Samantha, I was like Oh my god it’s Sirena. No one will get it, but I will have a good chuckle. A couple times I said to the team, by the way does anyone get the Samantha/Sirena, everyone said no. I was then just like, you know Bewitched , Samantha, cooky cousin Sirena, then they were all like oh my god that’s so funny.
PB: Where would you say you really see the line going the next couple years? Do you find yourself daydreaming and projecting into the future a little bit?
Andrew: Well there are a couple things that as a company we definitely want to have. We want to have retail in this next year. We would like to have one or two retail shops. We would like to expand our product classifications into some other things which is also exciting. So there is some good stuff coming down the pipe.
PB: Vacation spots, which do you think is your favorite?
Andrew: Right now I would have to say Cotten Wood, that’s my home in up state New York. That’s my favorite place to go these days. It’s kind of my escape, so I love going there. I mean you could put me anywhere and I would be happy. I love love love traveling, jet lag doesn’t exists to me. I take a stack of magazines and watch about 12 films. I couldn’t tell you one movie I watched when I get off the plane. Though, I could tell you about maybe 1 out of 8 – because I was so tired and drank so much wine.
PB: What’s your favorite drink?
Andrew: Very very very dry Belvedere martini. Freezing cold, no twist, no olive, no funny stuff. I want it just freezing cold and dry. Delicious. I don’t want any little vegetation taking away from my drink and taking up space.
PB: When you do have free time in LA what do you find yourself doing the most?
Andrew: I love going to restaurants in this town, that’s for sure. I like going out and hanging out with people, catch a little museum. There’s not allot of culture here. So if there is a great exhibit at a museum I love to do that. I love going to the Rose Bowl… a nice Sunday at the beach or by the pool… anything and everything.
Seeing as though a little bit of time has elapsed since our initial interview, I shot some update questions to Andrew and of course, being as gracious as he is, he had no problem filling us in!
PB: Since we last spoke, what’s the latest and greatest at LP?
Andrew: Everything! Dylan is hot and Janis (fringe) is out of control! AND our LP Vintage Collection belts are crazy! They’re timeless & authentic and aged with great studding or hand lacing or embossing detailsin greta vintage colors! And did I mention that we can’t keep our bracelets in stock?! These are great impulse items priced to sell!
PB: Fringe is huge. Do you think this is a trend that will stick around for a few seasons or do you think fringe is on it’s way out?
Andrew: If fringe is done well, it can be more timeless than trendy. And if you’re a girl that expresses her bohemian self in a natural casual way, then it’s really just an extension of your downtown attitude and style. BTW, Janis Fringe Clutch is out of control for evening and the fringe Shoulder Bag is crazy for day in vintage grey, vintage brown, vintage white or black.
PB: Will Linea Pelle be collaborating with any other designers soon?
Andrew: Great question! We get approached by a lot by celebrities (reps) who want to collaborate which is very flattering. Ideally we want someone who has great style of course, is a positive role model and who can also have some longevity…SO with that let’s just say that you should stay tuned…
PB: If you could describe the typical LP girl, what’s she like? (Or better yet, if you don’t think there isn’t a typical LP girl, why?)
Andrew: An LP girl is an individual & not afraid to express herself- She has great style and isn’t afraid to mix it up! She’s not so obvious and in your face with blatant logos and labels (although she does love a little luxe!),.More of understated casual chic I would say-The best of uptown and downtown!
PB: When it comes to trends and handbags, what are the 2009 must haves for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter?
Andrew: That’s a loaded question, but Color and Hardware! Colors start out rich and deep for Fall 1 and then go bright into Fall 2 & Resort! Dylan lives on in great new silhouettes in a myriad of colors. We also introduce Jacklin and Alex in the same garment washed supple Italian leather. There’s also cool new slouchy Vanessa and studded Serena. Hardware finishes range from matte gold and copper to satin nickel and gunmetal-Everything goes!