Whether it’s celebrities or royalty, Tyler Ellis’s Tuscany-made bags are fast becoming the must-hand accessory. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Princess Beatrice of York have both been seen carrying luxury clutches handcrafted in Le Sieci, near Florence, while the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Biel and Kylie Jenner have all been paparazzi-ed with Ellis’s creations. The designer speaks to The Florentine about her independent label centered on design and quality.
What’s your relationship with Florence?
Italy is my favorite place in the world. I’ve always loved the culture and food. I started out my brand in 2011 and I was producing at an LVMH-owned factory in Paris. It was really tough as an independent brand, so I moved everything to Italy where I started working with a father-and-son owned producer and everything changed. There are very few intimate family-owned producers left in Florence, so it became a very special experience. Overall, it was important for me to develop a close relationship with the pattern makers because I really enjoy the design aspect of creating and I wanted this to be an intimate relationship, not something mass produced.
For all of the leather in Florence, your designs are so unique. What does your design process look like?
Everything is detail oriented and functional. The signature “Thayer Blue” inside of the bags is named after the street I grew up on and the purpose of having that color on the interior was to avoid the common problem of not being able to find anything inside of bags with darker interiors. The hardware is also custom. The Perry Clutch [named after Tyler’s father, the revered fashion designer Perry Ellis, who died in 1986, ed.] was modeled after my engagement ring and the pine cones were inspired by the ones I had seen all over Rome on architecture and decor. After some research, I learned that pine cones actually represent a spiritual awakening and human enlightenment, so I wanted to incorporate them in the designs. I also really consider the clutches like a piece of jewelry in the way that they accessorize a look.
How does Tuscany inspire you?
In Italy, there’s an unspoken sense of clarity I get when I’m here. In the US, everything is still so new. But here there’s such a rich history within the country that it’s easy to feel the real soul of the place.
“Made in Italy” is super important to you. How do you maintain the integration of old leather making traditions with such fresh concepts like your mini bags and wine carriers?
Every single piece is made 100 per cent here in Italy, which is honestly a dying art these days. I like to think I have a pretty modern perspective on things and I love happiness and smiling, so that reflects in the designs. For me, it’s all about the details. Everything from the hardware all the way down to the hand stitches gives the piece more depth. There are no logos or monograms on the exterior, but it’s in those tiny details that really make a big difference. To me, bags are meant to compliment looks without outstating them.
Any exciting ventures right now?
We recently launched in Luisa Via Roma! It’s exciting to be in-store, so that people can come and actually hold the bags, and get a better understanding of them. All of those lovely little details can be appreciated in person.