Glass talks to US-accessories designer Tyler Ellis as she rebrands her line

YOUNG designers are a mixed bunch of vision, passion and energy. But, Tyler Ellis is in a category all her own, with an innate appreciation of provenance and good business sense, to boot.

Ellis, the daughter of fashion designer Perry Ellis and Barbara Gallagher, a television writer and producer, is a natural entrepreneur who has worked her way up the proper way in fashion. She launched her collection of handbags as Tyler Alexandra in 2011. Now entering her sixth season, Ellis is rebranding her line as Tyler Ellis to mark the brand’s growth.

Glass recently had the chance to catch up with Ellis to chat with her about how she got her start and what inspires her creatively in fashion and in life.

Tyler AlexandraTyler Ellis


What inspired you to launch your own handbag line? What do you feel was missing from the world of luxury accessories?
I’ve always been an accessories girl. I like to spice it up with accessories and jewelry. I worked with Michael Kors for a while. I chose handbags because I travel all the time and see women with established luxury brands.

Tyler Alexandra Tyler Ellis with one of her bags


What does the word craftsmanship mean to you?
To me, craftsmanship defines my work. This encompasses everything I do from working with the factory and defining the quality across the board. I also try to bring practicality with cross-body straps and pockets everywhere, but with a touch of personality, like my signature blue lining. Also, my symbol, the pinecone, is everywhere. Every season I tweak a little to make the bags better and better, sometime with key chains and larger things. Little details can make all the difference, taking pride in your work.

Front Cover Tyler Ellis bags

As a designer, from where do you find inspiration?
Travel, people watching, and seeing how people interact. For instance, the pine cones I use in my branding came from the Vatican. I remembered being struck by them during a visit a while back. Then when I first started the company I was looking for something subtle that means something. It is good to have a touch of positivity and perfection in every bag.

Tyler Ellis bagsJane saddle bag in calfskin and alligator


Are you part of the “bag that goes with everything” camp or the “bag that defines the outfit” camp?
I prefer a bag that defines the outfit. I am very casual and have a fun bag that makes the outfit more personally.

What bag essentials do you think every woman needs?
I carry nothing with me. I have lip gloss, credit cards, keys and cash. Every bag I make has a lip-gloss pocket.

Jamie doctor medium pewter python frontJamie Doctor medium pewter bag with python front


How did you get your start as a designer?
It is in my genes. I went to college for film and television. I decided to move to New York City to work for Michael Kors at his collection store and then styling Revelations. They were such a nice warm family at that company. There was real heart and soul to it.

Jamie clutch medium cheetah hair calf frontJamie clutch medium cheetah hair with calf front


If it isn’t prying, how has your father’s fame as a designer affected you? Do you feel it has helped or hindered your growth?
I chose to go with my own name and not wanting to use the Ellis last name to build myself on my own. I chose my own path and am allowing the product to define itself. Building my own brand was a growing process on its own. All personal growth and amazing.


Jane saddle small red navy leather frontJane saddle small red navy with leather front


What designer inspires you the most?
Coco Chanel. She came from nothing and the empire she created then is still relevant today. This is what I would hope for my own lines. I love the timelessness of her work.

C001_C016_0124IKAmanda shoulder bag in red alligator from Tyler Ellis

What/where is your favorite escape?
Italy. Any part of Italy – all my bags are made in Florence. I love the history, the food, the wine. I originally was in Paris and moved to Italy and took me over two years to find the factory that wasn’t opened by LVMH. They’re very boutique and don’t want to be mass production.

by Jessica Quillin

Tyler Ellis is on twitter

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