Thursday, June 16, 2011

Collina Strada

I am always in two minds about buying a leather bag. The debate in a nutshell goes something like this- leather is durable, biodegradable and natural, but it also comes from a dead animal, is often drenched in chemicals and could be replaced with a vegan product. That said I have numerous calico bags looking battered and distraught after only a short period of time and faux leather conjures up petrochemical dreams and an existential lifetime. Bag shopping is a complex decision....

Collina Strada is a label that is tempting me to cross to the other side. Founder and designer Hillary Taymours’ unusual and beautiful designs combined with a sustainable approach is sealing the deal. Her latest collection stays true to her signature style. Rich colour schemes and versatile shapes may perhaps end the eternal search for the perfect handbag. Hillary tells us more about her choice to use leather and how Collina Strada all began.

How did Collina Strada come about?
Collina Strada all happened when I was living in LA and I made a bag for myself in this amazing printed canvas that I had hand drawn. This is now one of my best sellers called the Ferra bag. I was asked everywhere I went who made it and where they could buy it. I realized I had gotten the attention of my fashion peers and decided to move into something more entrepreneurial and start the business.

What was the main inspiration behind your recent collection?
My inspiration behind the Fall 2011 collection is color. I wanted to create my products in great color hues but make them neutral at the same time.

Why do you use leather?
I use leather because it stands the test of time. All of our ancestors used leather for a reason and I just think the synthetic aspect of faux is still harmful to the environment with the chemicals they use and breaks after wear and tear. You do not see many vintage bags out there in great condition made out of faux leather.

Do you know the origin behind the leather you use?
I source all my leather through a very trusty leather man. He tells me what Tannery it comes from and he knows where they buy the raw hides. I know what treatments they do to the leather from start to finish, which allows me to choose the most eco-friendly version.

What do you think about the contemporary leather industry?
To each their own on this one. I think you can do your part to use recycled leathers or vegetable dyes. Most labels choose not too. However, I do believe that amongst the wide variety of selection out there if you do decide to make a purchase infrequently a leather jacket could last 20 years longer than a faux one.

Collina Strada is produced sustainably; can you tell us more about this?
I use all organic canvas and print using eco ink to make all my speciality prints. I only use canvas from the US and print in South Carolina. I then make everything handmade in NY by 3 workers. I only use vegetable dyed leather or leather that is dyed using no chrome. Instead of Dust bags I give Organic Grocery Shopper totes with each bag, which is totally re-useable and washable.

Why is this important to you?
Nowadays everyone is starting a line. If you can start one yourself you might as well make it at least somewhat sustainable. Being sustainable is a choice and for the most part it doesn’t even cost more, it just takes a little bit more creativity during production. If you are going to create on this planet I think it is necessary that you do your part to look out for it as well.

Whats next for Collina Strada?
Clothes! Spring 2012 =)

You can find the latest Collina Strada collection here

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