The Exclusive Made in L.A. Handbag Line Beloved By Hollywood’s Elite

Hammitt Fall 2016 collection

Hammitt Fall 2015 collection

The top luxury handbag labels typically come with a pedigree, often French or Italian roots in luggage-making or the equestrian world. And that’s part of the appeal for consumers. (How else do we justify the prices of certain Louis Vuitton or Goyard totes that aren’t even made of leather?) But Los Angeles luxury goods purveyor Hammitt has been challenging the establishment with a luxe leather line designed and manufactured right here in our fair city with premium South American leather and quietly converting Hollywood A-listers in the meantime.

The luxe line, carried only at specialty boutiques, can be found swinging from the arms of Hollywood’s elite to its coolest ‘It’ girls, from Angelina Jolie (Ask how her how her Bel Air duffle is holding up.) to Kerry Washington, Cindy Crawford, Nina Dobrev, Jessica Szohr, Taylor Momsen and many more.

Stephenie Hammitt established the brand’s DNA, but since 2009, Tony Drockton, Hammitt’s executive creative director and CEO, has been at the reigns. Under his watch, the line has grown into a boutique favorite, now carried in over 250 doors nationwide. We sat down with Drockton to talk about L.A. style, the importance of exclusivity — what’s more L.A. than that? — and how boho is definitely not a passing trend.

Fashion Trends Daily: While L.A. does have deep manufacturing roots, from denim to contemporary to surf, luxury handbags aren’t exactly part of that mix. How does L.A. and the lifestyle here play into Hammitt’s designs?

Tony Drockton: L.A. is made up of small neighborhoods, connected by freeways and back streets that locals know how to expertly navigate. This diversity is represented at the core of our Hammitt DNA and the L.A. lifestyle is incorporated into the functionality our designs. Understated chic is the L.A. way of life. Whether in a tank top with jeans or a sundress, you are ready for the day and night with a Hammitt on your arm.

The Hammitt Roxbury Fringe in Entourage

The Hammitt Roxbury Fringe in Entourage

FTD: There are certain bags that look great in street style photos or at work, but really don’t make that day-to-night transition well. How do you see Hammitt bags making that transition?

TD: Each Hammitt silhouette is designed to take our clients from a coffee meeting at Urth Caffe to happy hour at the Hungry Cat and then dinner at Nobu. Crossbody is not an option, but a necessity for any bag.

FTD: A lot of the fashion world sees L.A. as a place where festival style is the norm. How do you feel about L.A.’s signature style?

TD: Festivals are evolving into a year-round experience that really range from March through October. As an avid art enthusiast and repeat festival attendee, these gatherings allow me to see where trends are going, especially as the attendee demographic continues to broaden. We focus on timeless designs that transcend trends because our client doesn’t carry a Hammitt for a reason, nor for a season, but for a lifetime.

Crossbodies are no longer just a bohemian festival trend, they are incredibly functional and allow the modern woman to be hands-free to multi-task.

FTD: It’s unique to find a handbag line that’s designed and manufactured in L.A. How does being made here set Hammitt apart from other lines?

TD: When I started Hammitt, I was told that a ‘Made In L.A.’ business model would never work as the costs would be too high to be profitable. To design around price is both short-sighted and limiting. I have always believed that people buy what they love as long as it provides them with an experience that enhances their lives. So I focused on producing high-quality bags with a consistent brand DNA that is recognizable and iconic — even without a logo. This has continued to resonate with our fans. As we have expanded, we have added more local manufacturers and have even expanded overseas to meet demand. We are not only proud of our L.A. roots, but we are building upon them every day.

Angelina Jolie carries the Hammitt Bel Air duffle

Angelina Jolie carries the Hammitt Bel Air duffle.

FTD: We can’t talk about L.A. without mentioning celebrities. Everyone from established actresses to fresh faces have been spotted with Hammitt bags. How do the designs resonate with so many different women?

TD: We always get excited to see our bags on top celebrities, but we don’t focus on it.  I think they are attracted to our exclusivity and the fact that we do not try to be on the arm of every star. Instead, we have built long-standing relationships with top wardrobe stylists and key influencers in the industry that are drawn to our style.

Partnering with the up-and-comers is always fun, as they get to carry our bags first and we get to be on the front lines of their success. They are proud to have something from L.A. that still feels like a secret…but they also love to share it. We can’t help but to enjoy that. There is a reciprocal identification in the relationship with young starlets as we are both in it for the long haul and know that it takes hard work along with dedication to your fans to stay both relevant and successful. 

FTD: You’ve worked hard to keep Hammitt in boutiques as opposed to department stores, why does that shopping experience lend itself to the brand?

TD: One word: partnership. Boutiques want brands that are good partners and will contribute to their long-term success. Many department stores are focused on a discount-driven pricing matrix and we haven chosen to follow a European model that focuses on relationships and incorporates a full-price only strategy. We want every Hammitt client to feel that they have a consistently high quality relationship with our brand, regardless of where they have purchased.

The fact that we do not discount but offer a lifetime warrantee has helped us to build a consistent and trusting relationship with hand-selected boutiques that are in line with our brand and pricing strategy. Our commitment to quality and timeless designs reaffirms to their clients that they have chosen a handbag from a brand that cares about that relationship for a lifetime.

FTD: Every woman is looking for a timeless bag, but that doesn’t mean boring. Hammitt is integrating a few new elements to its classic styles and it looks like you’re having a lot of fun with it.

TD: Hammitt instantly becomes a woman’s favorite everyday bag. We reinforce this philosophy by implementing a full-price only model, replicated by the heritage brands of Europe. With that said, we do incorporate design elements that are currently trending, such as fringe and suede into our classic silhouettes.

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Images courtesy Hammitt

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Author:Christopher Luu for Fashion Trends Daily

Christopher Luu is a Fashion Trends Daily Senior Writer and Menswear Editor.