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Behind The Scenes

The Making of a Meredith Wendell Bag

It takes major stamina to make a Meredith Wendell bag, and though Meredith and Wendell German might have to endure language barriers, jet lag, and amazing pasta to source and produce their vibrant collection of accessories in Italy, there are some pretty thrilling things about the process. The highlights: Click here to score our exclusive Grasshopper bag, which features one of Meredith’s of-the-moment skins, python. There are—and will only ever be—ten. The MaterialsMeredith: I like to use a lot of different things and mix them together. The factories hate when you do that! Right now, I’m really into exotic skins, like python and lizard. And I love patent leather. I tend to gravitate towards the glitzy or the shiny stuff. I’m kind of like a fish. Cutting dies used to create some of the bags in the duo’s spring collection. The Design ProcessMeredith: For a bag, I do sketches and then make a sort of 3D mock-up that I send to our factory to prototype. I’ll change things—we’ll go back and forth on a few prototypes—and then they make a market sample that I can still tweak. When thinking about what skin to use where, you try to look at how the leather will wear. If it’s trim or if it’s a handle, you want it to be durable. If it’s on the body of the bag, you want a larger skin, and if it’s a big bag, you don’t want to use something too delicate. Each component of each bag—no matter how big or small—requires its own die. Whoa. The ProductionWendell: We go into the place where our belts are made in Italy, and we see these Alaïa belts before they’re done. Then you go to our jewelry factory, and there are big tins of old Louis Vuitton hardware. It’s just super inspiring to be there and see all the amazing stuff that’s created.
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Meredith and Wendell Check in at the Greenbrier

If Meredith and Wendell German had to pinpoint one singular site of source material for their line of poppy, spirited accessories, it would have to be the Greenbrier, a West Virginia hotel where Meredith spent countless nights as a kid (see above photo as proof), and where the duo stages many of their lookbook shoots. Discover the awesomeness of the place for yourself, with the help of Meredith and some killer Meredith Wendell photography. “We’re an accessories company. Obviously the model had to wear clothing, but I wanted it to be more like a little uniform. So I thought it would be funny to make her something out of the drapes. She kind of become camouflaged so you could see her accessories.” (Spring/Summer 2010) “I love this lamp with the necklace hanging from it. We have two in our place that I actually bought in New York. That little area of the hotel reminds me of when I was little at cocktail party with my grandparents, and I broke my collarbone.” [Ed: That night is pictured up top! The boa is to blame, big surprise.] (Spring/Summer 2010) “A few shots are in one of the big guest cottages where my family would always stay in the summer. Our whole family would go for a certain weekend. It was a weird house in that it didn’t look like anything else at the Greenbrier, but it still had some quirkiness about it.” (Fall/Winter 2010) “This model, Danielle, is from West Virginia originally. The hotel’s grounds are massive. There are four golf courses and over 700 rooms. They just recently built a casino, which everybody was nervous about. But the design is gorgeous and super elegant—with a sort of Monte Carlo feel.” (Spring/Summer 2011) Check out the awesome purse the duo made just for us! It’s even brighter than the greens of that golf course.
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Meredith and Wendell Do Florence

Meredith and Wendell German, the husband-wife team behind Meredith Wendell, produce their luxe, crazy-bold leather goods in Italy—which means heading across the Atlantic to Florence every six to eight weeks. Sounds like a tough gig, we know, but the travel really is essential. “The people we work with are such artisans,” Meredith explains. “You can’t Skype them. It’s very old-fashioned, and I’ve been taught to just go there.” These are the five places they hit when they’re in town. Via VaiWendell: They serve the best steak—it’s better than any steakhouse here in New York.Meredith: It’s just olive oil, salt, and pepper.Wendell: Last time I was there, I wasn’t with an Italian, but I got the Italian discount—so they’re getting to know us, which is good.(Via Pisana, 33, 055 223132) Hotel LungarnoMeredith: It’s really, really cool. It’s not very typically Italian—it’s all blue and white.Wendell: It’s right off the Ponte Vecchio.(Vicolo dell’Oro, 5-red, 055 27261; lungarnohotels.com) View from the hotel Bardini GardensWendell: These are the gardens next to the Boboli Gardens, which are a big tourist attraction. The Bardini Gardens are like an afterthought, and it’s quite nice to go there and get away from everybody, especially the crush of people who are around during the summer and the springtime. The plush Bardini Gardens Il Santo BevitoreMeredith: This is a hip new place owned by these younger kids. The food is incredible.Wendell: It’s sort of avant-garde Italian food.(Via di Santo Spirito, 64-red, 055 211264) Golden ViewMeredith: The name sounds like a Chinese restaurant.Wendell: And it has the signage of a Chinese restaurant, but it’s just pretty, clean food. They have live jazz and serve food until midnight—which is nice because we’ll be at the factory until six or seven and then keep working because everyone in the U.S. is working.(Vicolo del Canneto, 2, 055 288683; goldenviewopenbar.com) Buy the (Italian-made) bag the duo created just for us right over here. It’s bright—and surprisingly practical.
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