Jane August FDR Tote, brown python ($3,080) and green deco leatherAt first, we had only planned to go visit the Sola Showroom in New York City back in April to check out what designers they represented that we could write about and introduce to our readers. What we did not expect was that we’d be crossing paths with a lady that was sitting at the table in the showroom. She was chatting it up with the PR girls while petting her chihuahua. As it turned out, this lady was the successful handbag designer whose bags represented nearly a quarter of the entire showroom floor. We arranged another meeting and a few days later we sat down with Jane August and got to know the confident, business-savvy designer that we had only read about previously in fashion magazines. Jane was a blast, very outspoken and she allowed us to learn intimate insights into the intricate business aspects of what it means to be an independent fashion designer these days. Enjoy!


Purse Blog: Tell us about Jane August’s beginnings.

Jane August: I started at Macy’s, California, in a trading program. It was learning how to do retail map and retail sales. After 5 years, I became a buyer. I was a petite dress buyer, I did a lot of private label and development for them overseas. Taiwan, Korea, Hong-Kong. From there I moved into different areas of wholesale and retail. I worked for Liz Claiborne and Limited, in 1999 I decided I wanted to take a year off and figure out what I wanted to do. I decided that to me clothing was – not boring – but too pedantic and that I wanted to do something much more exciting. I looked in my closet and realized that I had hundreds of vintage bags and shoes. I thought handbags would be a little easier; from my background I developed a lot of relationships in Italy and I wanted to do a luxury business for numerous reasons. What better place? I called a few people, went to Italy and my first order was with an Internet company. They wrote a $70,000 order, I thought ‘this is great, this is easy!’ – phenomenal. It was much more of an artisan project, we worked with a cabinet maker who made the wooden boxes for the bags. On their second order they went bust and left me with their holiday order;

Jane August FDR Tote, brown python detailPB: You mentioned that you like to visit European flea markets . Can you tell us about something especially memorable?

Jane August: I can remember getting robbed… it’s an experience! I can tell you about the King’s Road – which is one of my number one bags. In 1982, I was on a buying trip to London, I had all these bags but no one bag to put them in. So I went into a hardware store on King’s Road and I saw this feeding bag. It was in linen and it had adjustable straps. I loved it from the minute I saw it. I must have left it at my mother’s house. Three years ago, my mother came walking into my house, wearing the bag. I said to her ‘Where’d you get that bag?’ and she said ‘It’s yours! I’ve had it for the past 20 years’. I immediately sent it to Italy, and we did it in a linen version because it was a linen feed bag. It was no handbag! It was in a hardware store on King’s Road. Today I’ve sold thousands of them and I sell them on King’s Road now at a store called Charlie’s and they do well selling them. It became a full circle for me.

PB: How do you sum up the brand Jane August?

Jane August: Chic. Beautiful. I think that, in many ways, I don’t necessarily like to be like other designers. I don’t follow a trend. I don’t copy anybody. I take inspiration from things that have been done in the past. My favorite is mid-20th century design from furniture, to clothing. It is sleek. I think when you sum up my designs, a lot of it is sleek. You don’t see a lot of embellishment, you don’t see a lot of clunky hardware. If there is hardware, it’s very sleek and understated. I think that, for me, when somebody walks in with a bag, although you want your personality to shine, it should show the beauty of it and not so much the trend.

Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • lula_bernie

    Thank you very much for sharing this interview! :smile:

    I hadn’t heard of this designer before and look forward to seeing more of her collections.

  • I love her 57th Street bag! That is a beauty. We will be bringing more news from her to you all

  • Pat

    You have some absolutely beautiful bags.

  • Teresina Coleman

    I just saw the hand bags you have some really beautiful bags.

  • Linda Segel

    :razz: This is the first time I’ve seen these bags and this designer. They are gorgeous….who wouldn’t want one of these?

  • Sharon Luneau

    HOT AUGUST!!!
    One is not enough. After my first Kings Road I thought it doesn’t get any better than this. Wrong!! I wouldn’t carry any other designer. I collect them. As a buyer in High End fashion, I have been stopped in Paris and Milan so often that I keep going back for more. Her 57th Street bag is another of my favorites. The quality, and fine attention to detail in her designs are so chic. I have seen “Big” name designers try to copy them. They simply can’t. She is an original. I look forward to her new resort collection so that I can put in my reserve at Linda Dresner. If you want “real” style and quality
    treat yourself to one of her bags. Lux leathers, incredible pythons, shapes and colors. So you may not be a celebrity, carry a Jane August bag. You will feel and quite possibly look like one. BRAVO for Jane August!!!!!

  • Wendy Silver

    Her handbags are fabulous! I loved reading this blog and learning about her.

  • arun

    such a great post on blog, I love this blog

  • Bob

    Don’t want to seem too commercial but For Jane August fans, want to let you know, PorteroPrivate is having a 48 hour sale event on 5/27/09. http://www.PorteroPrivate.com – wouldn’t normally post a sale but if you are in the hunt for a Jane August bag our merchants are offering some great items at fantastic pricing.

  • Beverly

    I just found an invite to the Jane August private sale today on stylemaven:

    http://stylemaven.typepad.com/styleagenda/2009/05/jane-august-exclusive-invite-only-shopping-event-special-invite-for-stylemaven-readers.html

    if you click on the link on their site – it takes you to a Portero Private website and you have to type in the code STYLEMAVEN. Then you get the invite. They have great stuff and it is pretty cheap for python! I HEART Jane August bags. I have the Kings Road in lipstick red shiny croc!

  • Jo Ann

    My only wish in life is to be surrounded by Jane August bags. My closet is full and I am going though Jane withdrawls. She is the best! Oh and then there is always Charo…….

  • Felice Robin Designs

    I too have been designing handbags for 20 years and produce them all by hand, Many of mine are one of a kind. You are welcome to see some on my website (felicerobindesigns.com)–which is a work in progress. When I saw Jane’s bags I was blown away. Some of the nicest I have ever seen. I’ll be checking back from time to time to see what she is up to. Best wishes!

  • Handbags

    It looks nice!

  • cheap wholesale handbags

    pretty cute! that’s a good way to put it, nice insights works well in clientele explanation and information resource option.

  • Sandra Arnold

    I purchased one of your belts from a boutique in Hinsdale, Ill. It was one of a kind. I loved it and wore it constantly for a couple of years. The buckle on it, unfortunately, cracked in half in my suitcase. I was devastated and tried to purchase a new one, but the boutique no longer carried your line. It was a very wide belt with a large buckle which was a metal with black leather trim. Is there any way I can buy another belt from you? My phone number is 1-630-573-4250.

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