When designers Tiffany Wu and Lynn Lu created HEIRLOOM, they had a trendy world traveler in mind. Combining fashion with function, HEIRLOOM was born and has garnered great acclaim since its inception. Here, we chat with Tiffany Wu about the inspiration behind their latest collection and how their lifestyle is reflected in their work.
Cliché: You started HEIRLOOM Bags because you could never find the perfect bag for your traveling lifestyle. Is it safe to say you design your bags with your own personal style in mind?
Tiffany Wu: We definitely design our bags with a personal touch. We believe that putting yourself as the user when designing is extremely important because functionality plays such an importance in our daily lives and we want our customers to feel connected to our products and make them feel comfortable. For example, we add a hidden card slot at the bottom of our bags for key cards or subway cards, allowing women to swipe through effortlessly, saving time and staying organized. Our passport holders have slim card slots and multiple currency holders, designed for the world traveler. HEIRLOOM is something that is close to the heart, and a woman’s handbag holds her everyday necessities and knows her the best. We design not only for fashion and style but having functional details embedded within the bag are our core values. We believe in beauty on the inside and out.
You created a capsule collection for laptop bags back in 2014 for Apple. What was that experience like? Would you consider creating another laptop bag collection in the future?
We were honored to work with such an innovative company like Apple and work closely with their retail/product team. They believed in our quality and attention to detail, offering products for women that have a demanding lifestyle. The capsule collection was an extension of our main line, created to hold the 13” MacBook with a designated iPad slot and earphone pouch, but can convert into an oversized clutch for a night out. Unlike most “tech” bags, our collection was chic and modern and can be used for other function.
How has your heritage and lifestyle played a role in your company message and your designs?
As parachute kids and work, we did our fair share of international traveling. This inspired us to design for women like us with demanding work schedules and busy lives without sacrificing on aesthetic. HEIRLOOM’s designs are vogue, enduring, versatile, and fun. We design for modern, independent women like ourselves that seek quality and design without sacrificing on practicality.
Your Twin collection received the 2016 10th Annual Independent Handbag Design Award for Best Overall Design & Style. What inspired this collection and why do you think it resonated with so many people?
This collection was actually the first line ever created for our brand. Not only is it named Twin collection for the fact that Lynn is a younger twin, but it also encompasses the core essence of our brand: functional designs that are also unique, sophisticated, and well-crafted. The collection was a product of our blended lives after spending many years living in both U.S and Asia. Our Asian culture influenced our designing of a more proper and structured bag, while our American influence reminded us of the “practical spirit” that every bag must also have. We’ve included in most of our bags functional features such as a dog-clip leather strap for keys, multiple interior slip/zip pockets, and a designated metro card pocket for easy-swipe access. The end product is not only a bag with purpose but also a bag that you can delicately hold as an evening top handle or wear as a cool, chic crossbody bag during the day. I think that’s why people love the bag; it can be your go-to bag for so many different occasions.
Your Spring/Summer 2018 collection is called “Memphis Movement.” What inspired this collection?
The Memphis Movement was an impactful design movement in the ‘80s, a generation where we grew up in, drawing inspiration from art deco and pop art. We used a lot of geometric shapes and pops of color, moving away from the minimalism and monotone color palette, which we have incorporated into our SS18 collection with the use of leather layering, exaggerated mirrored hardware, and geometric shapes. We wanted our products to be visually impactful and fresh, and to stand out from what exists in the market.
Our Asian culture influenced our designing of a more proper and structured bag, while our American influence reminded us of the “practical spirit” that every bag must also have.
Which bag from the Spring/Summer 2018 collection is your favorite and why?
I love our Memphis Shoulder bag from SS18. It’s really HEIRLOOM’s take on the classic flap shoulder bag. We’ve made it a bit “cooler” with wider side gussets, a wide handle strap with nice buckle detailing, and a generous hardware piece in the middle for a bit of pop. We loved it so much, we designed several versions of the bag, with our signature emboss, mixed trim leathers, and (our favorite) the Spiked version.
Which other collection of yours would you recommend for new buyers?
In addition to our signature Twin collection, we would highly recommend the Veronica collection. It’s a classic flap bag with unconventional detailing. Inspired by a jewelry designer friend, we incorporated exotic and luxurious materials on the bag, mixing delicate python with durable cowhide with front zipper detailing and quilting that is feminine and wearable. On the interior, multiple compartments and zipper pockets were designed to keep personal items well organized and divided; a design detail is rarely used in classic flap bags. We added double chain straps that not only can be converted into three different looks but also gives movement and flow when carried.
You also sell a range of accessories on your site, including sunglasses, key charms, and pouches. How does the design process for these accessories differ from the design process of your handbag collections, if at all?
When it comes to designing our accessory line, we need to be much more focused and really hone in on what our key design elements are for each season, whether it was color combinations, special trims/leathers, or emboss patterns, and make it work on something much smaller and compact than a regular bag. For example, the size of our signature emboss pattern had to be reworked a few times to make sure it was something that looked good on both handbags and small leather goods. But one thing we always keep in mind when we design anything for our line is that it has to be both functional and fashionable.
What are you working on next?
We are working on our Fall/Winter 2018 collection now. It’s still a work in progress, but we are getting really excited about it. You’ll not only see a slight evolution in our signature Twin collection but also some exciting new shapes and some beautiful, rich colorways for the fall season as well.
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BY MEGAN PORTORREAL
HEIRLOOM Bags Founders Discuss Their Latest Collection: Photographs courtesy of HEIRLOOM