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Behind The Scenes

Rachel Talks Tough

Rachel Nasvik doesn’t make one-season wonders: All of her sharp, pared-down bags are built with longevity in mind. Here, the Brooklyn designer shows us what it takes to produce purses that can handle years (and years and years) of roughhousing. Like what you see? The Celia bag pictured here was made just for Of a Kind, and there are only 20 of these timeless little guys in the world. The Hardware:“I usually use solid brass. A lot of it comes from Ohio, and some is from Boston. It’s just really, really sturdy and holds up well. It has a few coats of lacquer on it and oxidizes with time. You can polish it, and it will look like new—but it don’t mind if it ages. I like that feel.”The Leather:“I use really thick, sturdy cowhide—mostly from large skins that wear really well and are typically used for upholstery—that has a waxy layer on top that protects it but also allows it to develop a patina. It will mark up with wear, but the marks fade over time. I’ve seen people who have had my bags for six, seven, or eight years, and theirs have a more vintage look. The Fillers:“It makes a big difference what you use inside. I want everything to be soft, and I like a heavy lining, like a cotton canvas.” The Construction:“I’ve been with three different factories now. I was with my first one for a year, and I was at my second for six years. We worked together really closely, and I actually ended up renting space from the guy who ran it. His wife was very hands-on, too, and she taught me how to take care of leather. For example, to correct blemishes, you just put a little unscented hand lotion like Lubriderm on a paper towel and massage it in. And Windex gets rid of marks without damaging the leather. Weather protectants aren’t good—they can damage and stain. The factory I work with now is right upstairs!”
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Rachel Nasvik’s Greatest Hits

With eight years under her belt, handbag designer Rachel Nasvik is in a position to reflect. Here, she walks us through some of the styles that have defined her line. Phoebe“I found this bag the other day at my factory and have been carrying it. They were using it as reference, and it was all beat up already. I love white bags that are just trashed. All the other leather stands up so well, but the white just sucks up all the dirt.” Patricia“This was one of my first bags, from like my third season. It’s a lot more complicated than the bags I had done previously. I had this vintage Mackage coat with a back vent that I loved—I still have it. I made a vent the center piece here, and I built everything else around that.” Becky“I did a neon collection that was kind of inspired by the whole DKNY thing from the early nineties. I have this fluorescent top that I love.” Penelope“For this one, I started with the flap, and it just flowed from there. I have an industrial sewing machine and start by cutting shapes and making a very rudimentary dummy. Then I work with my pattern-maker to revise, revise, revise until we get it right.” Chrystie“The detailing on this bag—and the other ones from that collection—is inspired by a medal.” Ramona“With colors, it comes down to what I would actually wear. I’m into rich colors. I’m not really into pastels. This dark blue-green shade is one that I really like—I call it petrol.” Bianca“This was the first bag I ever did. I wore it the other day, actually, and I was like, “Aww!” It has suede patches—like elbow patches on coats and sweaters.” Lori“It’s like a little jelly bean, that one.” Check out Rachel’s latest star: the piece she designed just for Of a Kind.
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Rachel Nasvik Gets Down with the Seventies

Nothing is definitively throwback about Rachel Nasvik’s line of sturdy leather handbags—there’s no fringe or macramé in sight—but the Brooklyn designer has a healthy appreciation for the days of the Lite-Brite and the leisure suit. “I was born in the seventies and have a much older sister, so I’ve always liked the aesthetic,” Rachel explains. Some of her references from that era are distinctly her own: “My parents are Norwegian, and all of our furniture was Scandinavian, before that was cool. It wasn’t even from that time, but the lines and shapes remind me of growing up,” she notes. Others are universal, though, like these three seventies women who matter to her today. Sally Field: “She’s unbelievably cute. I saw Smokey and the Bandit not that long ago, and I was just completely taken with her.” Bianca Jagger: “She was just cool. I mean, she was married to Mick Jagger, and she was therefore kind of a rock star. She could make jeans and an open, button-down shirt look amazing.” Goldie Hawn: “The number one thing is her hair. Beyond that, she has a really nice smile, those lips, and good style. Private Benjamin, which is technically the eighties, is an example of her at her best.” Take a peek at the little gray-on-gray purse Rachel created just for Of a Kind! Exciting stuff.
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