of Valet.
Spring 2011
The Outlook
Our guide to the best of spring shopping,
presented every Wednesday during the month of March.

The Debut:
Ben Minkoff

You might not be familiar with designer Rebecca Minkoff, but ask one of the ladies in your life and without a doubt, she'll fill you in. Minkoff launched her line in 2005 with handbags, which quickly showed up on the arms of celebrities and stylish early adopters alike, before expanding into a successful ready-to-wear collection in 2009. This spring, she founded Ben Minkoff, a rugged men's line inspired by her grandfather and the gear he used as an Air Force pilot in the 1940s. We caught up with Minkoff to learn a little about the line.

How'd you decide to get into the men's game?

Last year, we wanted to do something great for April Fool's Day, so someone in the marketing department had an amazing idea to put some of our female handbags on men, and we created a promotional piece with 10 images of men carrying my bags to go along with a campaign that said 'Dudes Love Rebecca Minkoff." In response we had an outpouring from people asking us why we didn't have anything for men. So it just became the natural next step for me ... There were no doubts, I knew this was the right thing to do at the right time.

The line is named after your grandad?

Yes. He was truly an inspiration. He was this strong, dedicated family man who was an incredibly patriotic combat fighter pilot during World War II.

The bags themselves have an old world quality about them.

It was important to take a step back and think about what men are looking for. They want details and materials that make the bag unique. From the brass hardware that I use to the waxed canvas and rich, buttery leathers—it all gets this great aged look, that just keeps getting better looking.

They're also incredibly functional. What, in your opinion, makes a bag good for the modern man?

It's all in the details. You will never find a non-functional Ben Minkoff bag. I paid very close attention to what was inside the bags that would be functional for a guy. I built computer slips that come with most of the bags, places for pens, a blackberry and cards. All built in to the bags.

Rebecca herself carries the Justin tote.
Did you survey the men in your life on what they needed out of their leather goods?

Well, I'm married and my brother is the CEO of my company so they were both very excited I was finally designing something for them! They had a laundry list of things they wanted from me. I also make my husband Gavin wear each new style for at least a day and wait for his okay before I put it in the line.

And when it comes to leather, are you in the camp of regular protecting and cleaning or do you prefer to let the bag get beat-up and lived-in?

Especially with these bags, I'm in the "beat-up and live in it" camp. I want my customer to love it so much that he just wants to wear it every day.







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