Vlad and I sat down with Richard Lambertson and John Truex again this month to see what has been going on with Lambertson Truex
since our last interview
in May. Richard joined us for the last part of the interview, as he was out of the office for the beginning. New at Lambertson Truex is their Spring 2009 line, which is showcased around their open and airy showroom in NYC. The exotic skins remain big and splashes of divine color are seen on crocodile skins.
The bags will speak for themselves and the duo behind the brand will show you once again that they are as unpretentious as they come. Lambertson Truex
has become a Purse Blog favorite. The signature LT closure gives the perfect touch of the brand to each bag, and the inside lining and set up shows a true understanding of what a handbag is supposed to accomplish. The exotic skins and refined style of Lambertson and Truex exudes in their pieces, luring in shoppers who are confident with a bag that compliments rather than steals the show.
Vlad and I spent time in the showroom trying on different bags (I am the bag model in these pictures) and giving ourselves time to see the bags up close and personal. The travel gear is a must from the brand, which comes as no surprise after their team up with Samsonite. And in my dream world, I will be driving in an old-timer to our summer beach house with a large crocodile bag thrown in the back seat. While I did not leave with a crocodile weekend-getaway bag, Vlad and I did pop into the Lambertson Truex
store on Madison Avenue to buy some goodies! We will post pictures later of our new LT purchases. And if you want anything from LT make sure to call the Madison Avenue store and ask for Carmine, he is awesome (212-750-4895).
Find more information on Lambertson Truex online
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Slide 1 / 4
PB: So just in general, we saw you last April and wanted to see what is new since then.
John Truex: We've been very busy with our stores. They are our babies. They have introduced us to a new type of business. We've always been working with retail stores, but this has been a new way to get our stuff out there with everything - belts, accessories, men's wear. Another thing we have been working on is e-commerce. We are launching our e-commerce site soon. It is a lot of work, but we are a small company and we are out there with the big boys and big girls. We are a little stone in a broach. We want to do this one step at a time and we have been working on this for a year. It is going to be very limited, top 10 of LT and there will be your die hard favorites to the really brilliant snakeskin. There will be a cross section of our lifestyle brands and it will be handled by us, that is why it will be very limited. It won't be our entire collection, so we will start small. A lot of people visit our website and it has been very successful and people have been very complimentary, the way it navigates and such. It has been down for a while as we work on e-commerce. It has been a really big project.
We also teamed up with the the Whitney Museum Vanity Fair, American Express - they invited us to do a special project with them and Donald Baechler. We collaborated together. We designed the silhouette, Donald did the painting and we married them together. It was a big launch. We did 200 limited edition pieces signed by us. We did the transformation of the silk screen painting. A collage of colors and textures - proceeds go to the Whitney Museum. Richard and I really love and support art and any art programs. It is all about rediscovering; use it or put it away or make it a collectible. For collectors it is kind of special. We also did a canvas tote called the Gertrude, there are 1000 of them. They are signed by Richard and I only - a special piece we did for the Whitney only. It is really sporty and fun! For $120 bucks, it is a great bag for men and women. Gym bag, tote bag, tennis bag, it is good for whatever you'd like it to be. The time frame was really tight. It seemed like we had minutes to pull it together. We wanted to launch it in time for the the Vanity Fair thing. It was all around Madison Avenue and we wanted it to be a fun Fall thing.
PB: Which stores do you have open now?
John: We are in New York for over a year, we are in Las Vegas opened in March and we are in Los Angeles.
PB: Do you have more in store?
John: No, that is a lot for now. 3 stores in a year and a half really wiped us out. It was a huge accomplishment. So we really focused on that. I think we will take this and then focus a bit more internationally. We are pretty domestic, we are at Harrod's and a few in Germany. But we really want to go out in more of a force.
PB: Tell us about Spring 2009 line.
John: Spring is really an explosion of color for us. We are always inspired by leathers and textures. We design into the leathers, saying wow this drapes so wonderfully. But this season it is all about color. Color and texture. I know it is something we say all the time, but it really is the soul of our line. Everything is colorful but mysterious. This season we use some seamless silhouettes and designs. It explodes out. You can see it is a play with the texture and a solid. It seems like a bit of a surprise. It gives volume but also your eye moves around. There is nothing harsh about it. It is more abut a whispering of elegance. You turn it to a side and see a new texture, look at the bottom and see a new contrast, then open it up and see the color there.
Slide 2 / 4
PB: This skin is great, it doesn't flake out too much.
John: This is a luxurious leather with a bit of flatness too it. It isn't too 3-dimensional. And with the snakeskin and python, it can tend to be a little heavy for spring. For winter, I love textured leather, a heavy look. This collection was great and we had a lot of fun. We had 3 silhouettes. The snakeskin is beautiful. You can see the beautiful drape to it, a nice size bag but not overwhelming. It has hidden pockets. Our bags are about being subtle, and individual and unique in a way. We design if for the women who are going to buy it, who are going to carry it.
PB: And we were talking before, with the change of the economy, have you seen it impact you?
John: It has totally effected us. People are making decisions and are buying, but are spending a little more time deciding on what they are going to buy. I think our collection fits in perfectly, because the woman is looking to make an investment and doesn't want to spend her money foolishly. When she buys LT, she isn't buying fashion, color and a thing of the moment, she is buying something that is timeless. And there isn't an age or year written on it. So when she makes a purchase in that alligator bag that is $18,000, she knows that when she carries it 5 years down the road, it will still be great. So, yes, the economy has effected us in negative AND positive ways.
PB: Your theme has been to not just have the "it" bags.
John: Right, it is about having a really important accessory collection that a man or woman could enjoy. timeless quality is really what we are all about. We put thought into it. Sometime it is great to have something that will be a hit for just a couple months. That is our element of fun there. You can put a bag away and then rediscover them. When it comes down to the retail and wholesale level. We are buying leather smarter, and running our business a little tighter. You can't give up the fun, you just have to be a little sharper and tighter.
PB: Working together, do you get on each other's nerves? Or what are the perks working with one another?
John: There are so many. Perks working with ME of course. It is obviously a very dynamic situation. Not everyone can work with their life partner on a business and social level, 24/7.
Richard Lambertson: I think the thing that helps us is that we are such opposites. We both approach the same subject and obstacles but come out of it a different way. I guess our biorythms work, but it would have to be the way we attack things. John always says that I attack things in a sort of chaos while he is lining up the pencils, making sure everything is sharp.
John: I'm Cancer and he is Leo. I am a homebody, I like everything organized. For me, life is so much more simple if life is in order. If things are chaotic, I can't focus.
Richard: And for me, I work best when I am working on at least 3 projects. I love going to warehouses and being surrounded by all sorts of fabrics and such. Chaos excites me. Where as John, has to go with a piece of paper, find what he is looking for and then get out of there!
John: Working with Richard, because we are so opposite is great, I learn so much about the other side of me - when I look outside my controlled world, it is great. He pushes me to open up a little more. We do travel separately. I like more interaction with people and Richard doesn't. I love going to parties and showing off what we've done. I love doing that. We don't as a couple a Lambertson and a Truex arm in arm. If he isn't into it, I don't want that energy around.
Slide 3 / 4
PB: You've found your way over time?
John: Ya, we both have our little niches and we've found them. We do what we are good at and we balance each other out.
Richard: I take chances and I am more entrepreneurial. John likes to not get ahead of ourselves.
PB: What is the biggest challenge working together? Do issues in the business translate into private life too?
John: We try really hard to make sure once the day is over, the day is over. I think Richard will say as organized as I am, I do the same with my free time. Like if Richard starts talking to me about something work related I tell him, no, that is going to have to wait until Monday. I just really like to do nothing on the weekends. But, we share an office and that can be challenging. My dream is to have my own office, but it would be hard to have my own office because we need to be together because we design together. That interaction is very important. Maybe we could get a glass wall or something. In your heart of hearts you know this is right and it helps make everything work. Sometimes we work each other's every nerve, but it works itself out.
PB: What is your favorite look for Fall? And your favorite bag for Fall?
John: It is always so hard to think about my favorite. I am a little confused with where we are at, you know, since we are designing for Fall 2009. I am kind of channeling that sort of dark, 50's time square. We have a bag called the Rowle, I am carrying now. It is inspired after a football, the inseam, leather and overall look. It is kind of inspired by a gym bag. We are not a one bag kind of person, so it is so hard to pick. I throw so much into that bag, it is soft, relaxed, different; I love that bag. Also, the New Haven in python gray - I made the handles short and am carrying at as tote. My look is the skinny leg pant, gray, flannel, black, white, I don't really go into a lot of color. I love textures, gray alligator belts. I think guys need at least one belt. When I find something that makes me look good, I'll buy multiples. That is how I shop. I really shop when I travel - not when I am here working in New York. And when I find something I like, I buy multiples and I keep the for years. I also love wallets - that is where I do my color.
PB: What are you really tired of? It doesn't have to be fashion, but just in general.
John and Richard: Reality television and perhaps celebrity endorsements. You've got so many celebrities who have gone and designed their own lines.
John: But, this really isn't much different than us starting our own line, you know? Someone like P. Diddy is really dedicated to the process. There are celebrities out there that have created a brand that they are dedicated to and believe in - they have a voice, they have a say. But getting back to your question, I am tired of working too hard...hah!
PB: Ok, on the flip side, what are you really in love with right now?
John: I am really in love with some people's enthusiasm - in general. You know, someone who has really positive energy. People stepping up and trying to do something different, positivity, great outlook on life, laughter, being able to laugh at yourself. I love when people can sit back look at themselves and just laugh. I love being around that, not people that complain.
Richard: I love Mad Men. It is my favorite thing. I think it is brilliantly acted, written. It is a period of time I grew up in and it is really interesting to see. It's like a docudrama.
John: It has the kind of drama that is when women were women and men were men. There is this sense of elegance.
Richard: It is loosely based on Eric Stevensen ad agency. It is very interesting to watch. You watch it and almost think you are watching a period movie; I mean even down to secretaries still covering their type-writers at night.
Slide 4 / 4
PB: If we went into your closet, what would we find? What would there be the most of? Organized? Messy?
John: Pretty organized. For my clothes, there is like a rolling rack in an extra room. I am just trying to organize it. But here in NYC, space is limited. The hardest thing is the bags, I have so many bags to store.
PB: How many bags do you have at home?
John: Probably about 20 or 25 that I use. I need to live in my bags because I want to be able to talk about them in the store and with other people.
Richard: I usually stick with one bag for a while and then change it.
PB: Well, that is just about all we have. We wanted to touch base and get a chance to see what's new.
John: Everything is new for the upcoming collections. For this season, we just went kind of crazy with new colors and silhouette. Now we are working on Fall and just put a meeting together for Resort. Shoes, belts, gloves, everything is going to be wonderful. I love designing for Fall.
PB: Do you ever feel a hint of sadness when you have to retire one seasonal collection?
Richard: Believe it or not, you are pretty much over it and ready to move on once a collection is finished.
John: It is never finished, finished until it is packed and sent to stores.
Richard: There is such a short window of time where you present a collection and get to appreciate it. It is like 2 days later you have to move on to the next collection and focus on that collection. You have to kind of step back and think about which collection is in the stores now and which collection you are working on.