5 Minutes With Exotic-Accessories Designer Nancy Gonzalez

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Nancy Gonzalez official headshot
Photo: Courtesy of Nancy Gonzalez

Although luxurious materials and classic styles are the pillars of Colombian accessories designer Nancy Gonzalez’s aesthetic, she is quite a forward-thinking woman. Her bags have become synonymous with celebrity, but back in her native country, Gonzalez employs a work staff that is primarily made up of women, provides daycare to her employees, and ensures that the local artisans who craft her products do so in a way that preserves Colombian culture and native techniques.

Gonzalez’s first foray into fashion accessories occurred in 1998, when she presented her eight-piece collection to Bergdorf Goodman. Her accessories are now sold in over 200 luxury retailers worldwide, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrods, and Net-a-Porter. By relying on the finest exotic materials – particularly colorful crocodile hides – and skilled artisans, Gonzalez guarantees the highest quality products possible. Savoir Flair was recently given the exclusive opportunity to talk to Gonzalez about her design process, her first foray into shoe design, and the special range that she has created specifically for the Harvey Nichols – Dubai shopper.

How did you decide on the exotic-handbag niche?
When I started designing, I wanted to use the best materials, and the finest in Colombia was crocodile.

Where is your line produced?
I produce my handbag line in my hometown of Cali, Colombia, and my shoe line in Italy.

What is the design process like, from concept to execution?
My design process is more of an ongoing dialogue with the world around me. I travel several months of the year and capture visual inspirations to nourish my creativity.

What aspects of Colombia inspire your designs?
My homeland’s rich landscapes – the magnificent color palette of its luscious gardens filled with rich vegetation, tree branches extravagantly decorated with wild orchids – are always present in my work. Even after all these years, nature is still my best collaborator. Life is my source of inspiration.

Middle Eastern consumers love fashion, they are daring, and they love color as much as I do.

Your mix of exotic skins sets your designs apart. Where did this method come from?
Two hides are never alike so, in a way, the skins tell me how they should be used. I feel very connected to them. I love the challenge of figuring out how to use them in the best possible way.

How many styles do you create per season?
We create 150 new styles in 300 colors per season, with three collections per year.

How have you expanded your range since you first launched your label?
The brand has grown tremendously in terms of size. Our collections are much larger and broader than ever, making us able to capture a wider audience. We also just launched our first women’s shoe line – the first-ever comprehensive range of crocodile shoes in the world, with over 75 styles. It will debut this December at Harvey Nichols – Dubai and Bloomingdale’s-Dubai. We also launched a men’s line named after my son, Santiago Gonzalez.

What was your goal when creating your Fall/Winter 2016 collection for Harvey Nichols – Dubai?
My goal for each collection is to create a collection large and versatile enough so that the buying team of each store can purchase the line in a unique way… for its customers to have an exclusive offer. I’m very sensitive to the fact that it is a global market, so I want to make sure that the final consumer is not finding the same Nancy Gonzalez bags in Dubai as she is in London, New York, or Hong Kong.

How is the Middle Eastern customer different than other customers?
They love fashion, they are daring, and they love color as much as I do.

When people think of Nancy Gonzalez handbags, what do you want them to instantly associate with your work?

Quality, craftsmanship, and value. The trick is to achieve all of these attributes at once. Purity, balance, rigor, and composition are the aesthetic pillars of my brand. Dignity, optimism, and structure are its essence.

Where do you see your brand in the next five years?
Many, many surprises…