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Finding the Perfect Men’s Bag - for a Woman

March 14 2012

There is something about menswear that has always appealed to women. The comfort of a cashmere V neck sweater borrowed from your significant other, paired with a pencil skirt and layered with pearl necklaces…The loose drape of a boyfriend jean combined with a fitted ribbed tank, bold earrings and penny loafers is another coveted look by many women. I personally love mixing men’s and women’s looks together. Makes life more interesting…and I love pushing the envelope of what’s expected just a tad.

Of course, one of the men’s styles I regularly am drawn to and use is the “man bag or murse.” Men’s bags don’t just have a certain look, they have a certain feel about them. There’s often no fuss about the styling - there’s nothing uptight or formal. They tend to have a clean, tailored look that is minimal and classic and focuses on high quality materials and functionality. Men’s bags can have softer lines as in the coated canvas Small Field Bag by Archival or the Japanese Tanker Tote by Porter. Lots of pockets, wide shoulder straps and cool, earthy colors lend a sense of comfort and ease to their functionality. And they never go out of style. That’s a huge plus in my book.

Fortunately for women, we can have the best of both worlds when it comes to handbags. We can opt for a tightly constructed, sleek clutch to add a touch of elegance to a nighttime ensemble or when the mood calls for it, we can grab a man’s messenger bag or tote, stow a laptop and essentials and go. Worn the right way, either look can be just as versatile and enticing. It’s all about the balance of style elements.

When it comes to a woman choosing a woman’s handbag, much of the decision lies in personal taste. Does the woman prefer something casual with a more amorphous shape or something a little more modern and structured? Chances are the decision is to purchase one of each. However, choosing a men’s bag to be used by a woman isn’t as clear. So how do you choose the right men’s bag?

A safe bet is to browse the “metrosexual” styles that offer a clean design, quality production and plenty of functionality. Small details like leather straps and imported zipper pulls give these bags an understated elegance. These styles tend to look great no matter whether dangling from the shoulder of a man or a woman. Finding a more relaxed men’s style bag is one way to go because such a casual look is often times more versatile and is the least gender specific. Of course a woman can carry a clean elegant briefcase for work or travel that is marketed to a man as well. An example of this would be the Stockholm Tote by ro or the Ultra Light Brief by Bill Amberg. The rule still applies about the right bag for the right occasion. You don’t want to take a laptop tote or brief out for a night on the town. On the other hand, a luncheon with friends or a short jaunt to the park can be just the right occasion in which to try out a unisex bag. Chances are that unisex bag will be something you revisit for years to come so it’s worth paying a bit more good quality.

A Rumination on Early Design Influence Fong Style

December 23 2011

Maybe it’s self indulgent but I sometimes wonder where the clean-lined design obsession began - pre the RO collection ? It’s fascinating to think about these things…or maybe it’s just me being overly contemplative and analytical... My immediate family was not particularly artisticly inclined or modern design-minded. My parents’ passion while I was growing up was travel, food/wine, different cultures …Of course I love those things too and they shaped me in a huge way as well. I suppose our life’s passions are a mix of different experiences that resonate with us - nature and nurture combined. This brings me to my long and rambling point about the nurture part of my childhood design influence. Just earlier this year via Facebook I re-connected with my long lost elementary school best friend Tracy Fong after 20 years of not speaking. The reunion brought back many amazing memories of spending time with her family at their house. You can see the picture of 1500 Lombardy Road in Pasadena posted here on my blog. This is the house that Tracy Fong’s father, architect and furniture designer/manufacturer Miller Fong, designed and had built for his family in 1977. Tracy and I met when we were 8 years old in elementary school in Pasadena. We were inseparable for many years – buying matching clothes, endless sleepovers, persuing all the same activities. I spent a lot of time with her family, truly loved being around them and became fascinated with the design-centric world they lived in. In old world Pasadena the Fong house was a true contrast. It was unique, stark, Asian-inspired and very minimalistic – as you can glean from the picture here. Like her father, Tracy Fong was very artistic as a child and this fascinated me too. In fact I was so enamored with her perfectly formed handwritten letters that I distinctly remember asking her to write the alphabet so that I could trace her letters and learn to write just like her. Another big memory: Mr. Fong showing me the blueprints to the new house yet to be built of his design– the floorplan of his two daughters’ rooms, the tile choices, etc… Today, not surprisingly Tracy is a successful activewear designer for snowboarding and currently paddle boarding….…I will never forget the amazing, exciting times I had with her family…The impact of their influence on me is substantial and it has taken 20 years to process. Funny thing about life…how it comes full circle and patterns are repeated and revisited. And its so very sweet, interesting and fitting that the launch of roztayger practically coincided with my finding my way back to reconnect with the lovely and talented Fong family.

My Recurring Nightmare:  I Lose my Clingy Wallet and ro Bag…

November 07 2011

It’s the oddest thing: Whenever I am stressed the same dream recurs – the setting might vary but the theme is the same. Last night I dreamt I was walking around on vacation, shopping, and I somehow lost my handbag. The fact that this recurring dream is one of the worst scenarios my subconscious can drum up is somewhat telling of the modern day neurosis. My mind immediately panics thinking: ALL those credit cards, my precious Iphone and the info in it !!! ALL that time spent online at the DMV to replace my license– ALL my favorite makeup…!!! Some people dream they fall off a bridge, some dream of horrific health scares or losing their job or their high school rejection/crush comes back to haunt them….but me ? I dream of the lost bag and wallet. Am I alone in this ? Is this just the modern reality of living in the 21st century ? Surely we have bigger things to worry about ? Does this shed light on my choice of career ? Anyone else care to share a similar and/or recurring anxiety provoking dream ?

My Love Affair with ro Bags and the Passing of Steve Jobs…

October 18 2011

Steve Jobs passed away on the day launched. I must say this was very strange and ironic for me. While I was excited to be finally showcasing designs I love and finally bringing to fruition my own creation, I was also sad that such an amazing and inspiring person had passed away. I spent some time reading quotes of his in the days after - some of which related to design. Many things he had said resonated with me and paralleled my own feelings/intuitions as to what makes good design . One writer said “He put stock in the notion of taste. He took complex, innovative technology and made it elegant, simple and incredibly functional. “ ... Clearly he felt the most beautiful things are the simplest and from a design sense the goal should be to strip away the excess until you get to the essence of what’s necessary - only then does it become beautiful.
Its true when I look at something: whether it’s a bag, a painting, or a building - it can either offend me visually, do nothing for me - any variety of things… OR something clicks and looking at it is easeful and pleasant. There is something about simplicity, beautiful colors, and linear elegance that I relish immensely. My hope is that this feeling/essence of simplicity and clean aesthetics is conveyed thru the roztayger site and products I have chosen. This brings me to the topic of ro bags and the title of this blog. For the 10 years since the ro collection came into being I have felt a visceral connection to the product line and the people behind it. As such, it was a natural evolution that I had became the US sales rep for ro and had seen it evolve and slowly build a following of clients here over the past decade. While they have a large following in Asia and to some extent Europe, it has been a slower build here in the US. It is my hope to service some of those US based ro fans who have little opportunity to buy or see the ro collection online or otherwise.
BTW - The photo at the top shows a pink saffiano leather ro bag from the very first collection Yvonne Roe did. Its from my “museum of ro bags.” I’ll never give it up. Its timeless, cool, modern and PINK. Even my 8 year daughter Sofia covets it but she’ll have to wrestle me for it. ☺


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