What It's Really Like To Launch An Indie Handbag Line

The handbag market is a pretty crowded corner of the fashion industry to truly make a mark: It's populated with O.G. It bags by, say, Gucci or Louis Vuitton, that's immediately identifiable by familiar logos, and the occasional, stealthily-appearing newcomer (hey there, Mansur Gavriel) that's suddenly slung on the shoulders of seemingly every fashion editor and street style star. But what's it like to transition from working behind the scenes for other designers, to taking a stab at running your own show? Just ask accessories designer Gretchen Maull, who debuted her label, GG Maull, last year.
She started her career as a studio assistant at Proenza Schouler in 2006, back when the luxury label was just four years old, and it's where she first realized she wanted to have her own line. Stints at brands like Missoni and Oscar de la Renta followed; she then joined the accessories design team at Calvin Klein, helping conceive a diffusion line (Calvin Klein White) from scratch, down to the hardware. After cutting her teeth on "Made In Italy" design for contemporary and luxury names, Maull wanted to get experience on a more mass brand with production based in China. It was also a label her teen self (and, likely, yours too) would appreciate: Juicy Couture. That job, coupled by a family incident that jolted Maull's career goals into perspective (more on that later) led the Bay Area native to get moving on her own brand, ASAP.
Some serendipitously-salvaged leftovers from her Juicy gig were Maull's starter stock for GG Maull, an accessories line designed in NYC and produced at a factory in Italy that works with major luxury names like Dolce & Gabbana and Prada. The brand, which is currently carried at boutiques like Intermix (with some department store stockists on the horizon) has been a labor of love. Starting an accessories company from scratch means doing everything from hustling for celebrity cameos to taking an emergency trip to Italy (where she works with a team she dubs her surrogate "famiglia") when there's a hiccup in production. Ahead, Maull shows us the process of creating and cultivating a luxury handbag label from the ground up.