Patricia Nash Talks Tooling, Travel and Her Expanding Lifestyle Brand

In What's New, Industry News by Lauren Parker, Accessories Magazine

Patricia Nash in her New York showroom

In just seven years, Knoxville, Tennessee-based brand Patricia Nash Designs has become a major department store accessories label, most recently taking its signature tooled and vintage-style leather handbags into footwear, scarves and travel accessories. Accessories caught up with CEO and President Patricia Nash to discuss her path into her own line, her latest travel collection and how her personal travels are helping grow her lifestyle brand.

What’s your background? Were you always in the biz?

I’ve been in the industry about 25 years doing development and licensing for the likes of American Eagle, Express, J.Crew, Disney and Warner Bros. I set out on my own seven years ago with the Patricia Nash line and it’s already in the Top 5 when it comes to department store handbag brands. I’d worked with retailers for so long so it was an easy transition.

After designing for so many other labels, how did you develop your personal aesthetic?

I’d traveled abroad for 20 years and was always a collector of vintage bags. When I moved my mom out of her house I found a 50-year-old vintage Italian tooled handbag in her closet; there were all those memories wrapped up in it. I wanted to recreate that aged, vintage look and construction.

Do you think your bags evoke memories in your customers too?

This brand has such a following and passion. The stories just pour out! Customers are always telling me how a certain bags remind them of their season abroad, or their grandmother carrying a similar framed bag. We have women who are sending us their collections of Patricia Nash bags. I have a show on HSN and we’re going to be releasing some special items.

Is your signature map print a nod to your love for travel?

It is but I take it further with specific inspirations from each place I go. I was recently in Cuba, so I did a lot of carved leather. I’m always coming up with new techniques I see and mastering them.

Your bags might not design into trends but they are capturing trends of the moment, like hand-crafted and Western. 

We definitely fit into that the tooled, hand-crafted look that trend services are calling out for Spring ’18, and consumers tell us they really appreciate the tooling. But we’re actually more vintage inspired. Our newest group has a hand-rubbed turquoise finish with a unique patina and four layers of hand burnishing. Since it’s hand-done, each one is slightly different. But since we don’t have the markup strategy that many brands have, we offer 100% leather, many 100% Italian leather, at $99 to $399.

How has this translated into other accessories?

We’ve expanded into fashion scarves. All our prints are exclusives inspired by vintage garments I’ve found all over the world. At $38 to $99, they’re an easy and affordable way to collect all the prints. We have the tooling design as a print too. Footwear, launched last fall, takes that vintage feel and look and makes it modern with comfort and sensibility. Retails range from $149 to $299. Newest are the travel pieces, such as weekenders and luggage, which really go back to my love of travel, and many feature that map print too.

Patricia Nash travel bags on wheels and booties

You have a New York showroom, but tell us about your year-old headquarters and Flagship Showroom in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

It functions as a local store as well. We are excited to finally have a place where we will host upper management from major retailers across the country to come and learn about our vision for the future of Patricia Nash as a growing lifestyle brand and how we intend to market ourselves. The renovated industrial building will feature one-of-a-kind samples and be a testing site for in-store fixtures and brand assets. We took over an abandoned leather craft building so there’s a nice heritage behind it. [Below, a look at the opening.]

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