What It Takes To Make an Exotic Skin Handbag

Leah Bourne
jill haber What It Takes To Make an Exotic Skin Handbag

Jill Haber Designs “The Sebastian”

Take a look through the fall runway collections—and one noticeable trend will stand out—exotic skinned handbags in python, alligator, and lizard. With a timeless appeal that screams luxury, few fashion items are as expensive or as timeless.

Jumping into the trend in a unique way is New York City-based Jill Haber, who has just launched a namesake line of exotic skinned handbags in vintage-inspired shapes. “I want these bags to be passed on from mother’s to daughters,” Haber shared with us.
We chatted with the handbag designer on how she got the label off the ground, how the bags are produced, and why discreet luxury is back in fashion.
The Vivant: Tell us the inspiration behind the collection.
Jill Haber: I have a pretty extensive vintage handbag collection from my grandmother—and I’ve always been attracted to vintage handbags, from a time when women dressed up. So my grandmother’s collection was an inspiration, and I’m really drawn to exotic skins. Everything looks better and super luxurious in exotics and I wanted to combine the two.
The Vivant: How did you get the label off the ground?
I was a total outsider when I started so I had to do all the homework, and find the right people. I went to lineapelle to go find skins. I took my design to a wonderful older gentleman who was making bag frames for the big fashion houses and didn’t take no for an answer.
What about the production of the bags?
I buy my skins in Italy, they go to a tannery in Spain, and I make all hardware in Italy. Then it comes to New York City where the bags are handmade.
Do you think the idea of logo-free luxury is particularly appealing to women these days?
If you make the investment in an exotic skin it is never going to go out of style. I think women want to wear something that is beautiful and luxurious, and something that they can make their own. It doesn’t need to have names all over it to be luxury.
Jill Haber’s Tips For Caring For Exotic Skins:
1. The great think about exotic skins are the minor imperfections of the skins, which make each bag different. Don’t look at these imperfections as something to “fix.”
2. Stay away from cleaning solutions in stores and alcohols like nail polish remover.
3. Keep the bag out of the sun, which can cause the bag to fade.
4. Store it in its sleeper bag, and store it in a place that is cool, dark, and dry.
For more information on Jill Haber Designs visit jillhaber.com.

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