John: We do canvas lining, especially when we want to do something light. But sometimes, canvas even makes it heavier. That is why we discovered the world of lamb suede, because it is light and easy. When we use canvas, the pockets are still trimmed in leather, it plays with what’s in the bag. Because cell phones have evolved, people carry their Blackberries and smart devices, we decided to make our pockets flat. So they are a little more universal, more generic and work in this high technology world.
PB: How would you sum up your brand?
John: Easy. Relaxed. Quiet. Robust. Light. When I look around [in the showroom] I see texture, detail. Thought-out. Finally, I’d say respectful.
PB: Do you have a favorite material you work with?
John: We love, LOVE leopard print. We designed with leopard print since 1998 in our first collection. Alligator as well. We love working with leathers that are a natural tannage, ones that are not covered with paint, chrome. Deep, saturated colors, even our pebble grains and our Nappas have saturated colors. We don’t like painted, nothing that is fake and vinyl.
Richard: I don’t really enjoy working with fabric, either. Something that is soft and drapey.
Richard: The hardest part is naming anything. I never particularly liked my name, but I thought John’s name was very cool
John: ;I obviously didn’t like my name; guess two bads make one;
Richard: John has a great name but nobody can pronounce it.
John: It is the easiest name to pronounce. I think that people just want to have conflict and struggle in life. If you look at Lam-Bert-Son Tru-Ex – it’s like the alphabet, very simple.
Richard: People tend to think we are European.
John: Born and bread Americans! Truex is French/Danish but it has been generations since my family landed on Manhattan Island.
Richard: When we first started the company, the DMM of Bergdorf, Suzan Cohen — very funny woman from Boca – asked “What’s it gonna be called?” and I said that we had a couple of things but that we thought of Lambertson Truex. “Perfect, perfect! It sounds vaguely European and my people will think it sounds very classy.”
John: We played around with a lot of logos and variations, just Lambertson – no – just Truex – no – Truex Lambertson didn’t work. We were playing around, sketching the logo and the L and T just fit like a piece of the puzzle. They lock together, seemed natural.
Richard: When we launched, that was the year that logos exploded. Dior did sweaty campaigns with greasy girls, wearing logos; Again, we are perceived as a huge brand because we sit next to Gucci and Prada and we started the company with just our money and no backing. We still do not do any advertising. The perception of the store and the people is the hardest part, getting our name out there.
John: Actually starting was not that difficult. Obviously, as with any business, you have to incorporate this, ship that. But breaking; I think we started at the right time. There were not a lot of brands out there.
Richard: To do it now would be extremely difficult.
John: We had a lot of friends that really supported us in the retail world, the editorial world. People embraced the support we received worldwide, we were very fortunate because we had a lot of people who wanted us to succeed. We are very thankful for starting when we did and having such support. And frankly, there were not many accessories out of America. It was all very European-driven. Through our retail experience, we entered at the right price point. You cannot enter the market in 1998 with a $2,000 handbag. We knew that, at that time, $795, $895, $995 was the sweet spot. We built the collection, knowing that is where we had to be. Chanel was $1,200, we had to go in with a beautiful brand that could sit next to Chanel, be different and priced at $995. We did not want to give the retailer a reason to tell us “We don’t want to buy this.” A to Z was covered, price points, materials, leathers, everything. They couldn’t say no!
Richard: The first order I hand-delivered to Bergdorf. Security went crazy because they knew me as the executive vice president of the company. When I showed up in my jeans, carrying this big box, the security guy would yell “Mr. Lambertson, get someone here to help him!” and I thought, “No, no, I am here to deliver;” It was really funny. John would be waiting around outside in the Volvo, double-parked.