Founded in 1876, Whiting & Davis is the oldest handbag company in America. Whiting & Davis has been the recognized leader in metal mesh handbags for well over a century–through the 20’s flapper era, the 70’s disco period and on into the 21st century. In its long histor,y the brand has become world renowned for its luxurious and high-quality brass metal mesh handbags, which are coveted status objects for stylish celebrities, socialites and collectors alike.
In 1999, Inge Hendromartono and Christopher Senn, co-founders of INGE CHRISTOPHER handbags decided to take Whiting & Davis to a new level. They added Whiting & Davis brand to the Inge Christopher Group, marking its expansion into the new millennium. Since then Whiting & Davis has maintained its line of timeless classics, while simultaneously redefining the accessories category with metal mesh bags on the cutting edge of high fashion. No other company has the history and experience to bring out the best in this remarkable, versatile material. Each design starts with a single, tiny metal tile and builds to a shimmering mesh statement piece worthy of the most discerning women in the world.
The team at INGE CHRISTOPHER continues the long-standing tradition of producing quality metal mesh handbags and purse accessories that Charles Whiting first started while innovating new techniques and designs to advance WHITING & DAVIS line into the new millennium. They introduced new colors and launched new products that will appeal to the younger generation of women of the 21st century. They also market WHITING & DAVIS handbags internationally. An American icon for 138 years and counting, the Whiting & Davis line is now sold by more than 500 exceptional retailers worldwide.
Accessories caught up with Inge Hendromartono, co-founder of Inge Christopher, to discuss Whiting & Davis’s past, present and future.
How long have you been with the company? I have been with Whiting & Davis since we brought the brand into the Inge Christopher group in 1999, so it has been 15 years.
What is a typical day like for you? Every day is different, but I often start the day by checking emails and then working on issues that need to be dealt with our sales team in New York since they are 3 hours ahead of us in California. Afterwards I would work with various members of the team be it Design, Marketing, PR or Sales depending on the day and the situation.
What is your favorite part of this industry? I love the creativity that is inherent in the fashion industry. It’s wonderful to watch the creation process from initial concept to finished products and it’s always exciting to spot our products in the hands of consumers, celebrities, or to see them in the pages of fashion magazines.
What have been some of the biggest challenges in the market lately? The retail landscape has changed a lot in the past few years and companies have to be able to adapt to the new market demands in order to survive. Buyers tend to play it safe and buy conservatively, many small boutiques have gone out of business and major stores tend to focus their business on big brand names making it harder for smaller companies and new designers to compete. There is also a bigger gap between customers who are not at all price sensitive and those who are more value and price conscious and care less about quality.
What are the newest and exciting changes in the marketplace lately? Technology has made the world smaller and a lot more competitive. Consumers especially the younger generation use more mobile technology and since they are attached to their cell phones, they can pretty much shop any time of day and compare prices through the internet. This is both the exciting and the challenging part of today’s rapidly evolving marketplace.
How do you use social media and how has it helped your brand? We use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to share news, engage with the customers, announce special promotions and showcase new products or celebrity spotting. Since each platform is different from one another, we try to adapt how we use each of them accordingly.
Does your company have any important milestones coming up? Whiting & Davis will celebrate its 140th anniversary in 2016 which will come up quite soon. At the same time Inge Christopher group will also celebrate its 30th anniversary, so we will be busy.
Are you launching anything new for Fall/Holiday 2014? For Fall/ Holiday 2014 we have a new type of metal mesh called pyramid mesh that we paired with an oversized 8mm tile mesh to lend an edgy rocker type vibe and another group that is accented with sparkling crystals for evening glamour.
In terms of styling, what are you focusing on for the Fall/Holiday season? We use embellishments such as chain fringe, leather tassels, feather and crystal accents to create exciting, unique and fun pieces with “wow” factor. Bracelet handles are also a big focus for Fall/Holiday.
Which designers/runway fashion shows have been most influential for you in terms of planning your Fall/Holiday line? Although we follow the runway and designers fashion show, our collection is not necessarily influenced by any designers in particular. Our designs influences come from a variety of sources be it general fashion trends, things that we see during our travel around the globe, architecture, art works, colors and texture in nature, etc.
Are there any celebrities, bloggers, movies, TV, music festivals, etc., that are driving trends for you lately? Usually there isn’t a particular event or blogger that drives a specific trend for us. Rather, we may create a few pieces that are either directly or indirectly inspired by such events. For example, theGreat Gatsby movie influenced us to create some special vintage inspired pieces, and our Palm print clutches and bucket bag were conceived as the perfect accessories for Coachella and other summer events.
Whiting & Davis was featured in Accessories magazine’s June issue: A look at who and what is hot now–in product, brands, stores, pop culture, business, social media, e-commerce, apps, runway trends, technology, start-ups, museum exhibits and much, much more!
To read the page, click here.