EARLY bags – eco-ethical handbag brand from Frankfurt
Early is a collective of friends and creative minds surrounding Frankfurt based designer Valerie Sietzy. With this interview, you will have the chance to look behind the scenes of this young German label EARLY bags.
Valerie, how did EARLY bags come alive and who is the collective of friends supporting you?
It was a kind of lucky coincidence which occurred when I visited a manufacturer of leather goods in my neighborhood. There, I stumbled over an amazing treasure trove of unused vintage leather. I started using this lovely material and gradually developed a great passion for it and its craft. I ended up creating a whole collection. This was after I graduated from art college where I had focused on artistic projects primarily.
Founding a label isn’t easy and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my friends.
To be honest, I think there is not one friend who hasn’t supported me in one way or another throughout this process. It starts with the translations by my native english speaking friends (Oriana, Ian, Domingo, Kaity) and goes on with simply pushing the like button on Facebook or Instagram or recommending EARLY bags to people. Some of them are with me since day one, like Lena Elfrath – a writer who took care of the brand communication – or Tobi and Paale from (aoki&matsumoto) – creators of the CI.
Vera and Beate – who showed me how to build a brand identity and the wholesale structure behind a label. Then, there is Marc my partner, a great photographer, who is responsible for EARLY’s visual content. Before I met him, my friend Julia took beautiful pictures of the first collection. And for a special edition, I recently worked with Nada and Vanessa from the photographer duo Lottermann & Fuentes.
My mother helps me with taxes, my father gives me business advice and my cousin Charmie is a professional model. There are also helping hands in the studio from time to time, people that enjoy manual work and want to get to know the craft like Julia and Justina (product design student /graphic designer). But above all there is my friend Christina who just helps me with everything, from Public Relations to production. Nina, a management student developed marketing and PR structures for EARLY and also helps with communication. Suska, Sascha, Micha, Nicola, Vanessa and Malaika are my prettiest friends and modelled for our online shop and the lookbooks. Nicola is also a postproduction guru.
It all pretty much falls into place and I am really grateful for this. It isn’t a one way thing of course and I try to support them and their affairs as much as possible too and reward them with cake, ice cream and of course Early bags!
I love to share creativity, working with friends is a big part of the EARLY DNA, especially in product development – if there is a new prototype we discuss all the features, the design and options, until we are completely happy with it. Most of my friends work in creative fields like photography, product design, graphic design, art – interacting with them is one of my biggest inspirations.
Which 3 words describe EARLY bags best?
Sustainable, functional and beautiful.
In a former blogpost, I reported on Olivenleder®. Next to leathers tanned with vegetable tanning agents such as rhubarb and tara amongst others, your Eco Edition is also made of Olivenleder®. When and why did you start this collection and how do your customers like it?
I am always in search of more sustainable, eco-friendly materials, because I feel it is my responsibility as a designer to create products that don’t harm the environment. I found the Olivenleder® at an exhibition about eco-fashion in Hamburg and started working with it a year ago. Our customers like it very much so far, but it also requires some explanation. For many people are used to conventional leather which is highly processed and often covered with a plastic topcoat in order to archive a kind of perfection that is not natural.
Vegetable tanned leathers are raw, and show irregularities like scars or stains and develop a kind of patina over time. So customers should be open for that and bear in mind that it is a natural product that has its unique look.
I love it when people visit our studio or smell the bags, because the scent of vegetable tanned leather is really wonderful, incomparable to conventional leather, so they immediately fall in love with the material.
What does the typical EARLY bag look like?
The typical EARLY bag looks simple from the outside, a very clean and elegant design without any blatant branding, but has a elaborate inside that makes it versatile and functional. For example the CC: an envelope bag that can be used for 13” laptops or folded as a clutch bag. Its lining is constructed in a way that makes folding easy and comfortable, but this functionality is completely invisible.
What are your EARLY bag recommendations for springtime and which colours and materials match Early bags best?
First I recommend my all time favorites, the hipbags. They are great with light outfits. The Classic version for sporty the Slim for more feminine looks.
Second I recommend the Twenty One, a clean, boxy shaped bag that contrasts long flowing dresses perfectly as well as a jeans and t-shirt style.
Our new wine red Olivenleder® goes well with sandy shades or ginger tones and our nude striped leather looks great on white or pastels.
Valerie, thank you very much.
More information about this wonderful brand from Frankfurt and its Early bags you find on the Website.
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