Ladies, Get Psyched To Get Away With Ernest Alexander's Heritage Weekend Bags

We are thrilled with all of our Refinery29 Holiday Editions, but we must admit: There is something particularly special about Ernest Alexander's bright overnight tote. Not only is it one of our biggest items, but for Alexander — whose heritage-ready men's items permanently stay on our mental gift guides for the dudes in our lives — the team-up marks a first foray into women's accessories. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention how honored and excited we are that he chose to debut his perfectly crafted ladies' line on Refinery29.
Of course, Alexander has had quite a season, with his menswear launch and a holiday pop-up shop, but in between sourcing USA-made fabrics and keeping our gents well-heeled, he found the time to sit down with us to talk about making a bag for the always-discerning Refinery29 lady. Grab an Ernest Alexander Weekender Bag now, because it'll certainly be a collectible, come the very near future.
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Wow! What a great start for a women’s collection! Is designing for women different from designing for men?
"Designing a bag for women was definitely a bit different from our normal design process. Usually, when I start, I just have to ask myself, is this something I would wear? With women's, we needed a different approach. Our design team had to come up with a persona for the Ernest Alexander woman so we could create something that was perfect for her. We wanted to put ourselves in her shoes. With men, there are a lot unspoken rules. They tend to be more conservative and they often carry the same color all year round. For women, we were able to take on a whole new mindset, exploring freely with color, materials, and new shapes. It was pretty exciting and liberating in many ways — the collaboration with Refinery29 actually kickstarted a whole new line for women, debuting this coming spring!
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We’ve got to know: Which do you like better, the merlot or saffron? Why?
"At first, the saffron definitely jumped out at me: It's such a great pop of color! But after working with both materials, I'm becoming a bit partial to the merlot.  The wax canvas in that color just wears so beautifully and you can tell that over time it's going to have the most beautiful patina, just like the wax canvas bags we design for men. Both colors will definitely get better and better with age."

Photo: Eric Ryan Anderson/Ernest Alexander Shop It Now
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Now that you've launched a killer men's line, and have created this gorgeous R29 women's piece, what is your next women's product going to look like?
"We are currently working on developing a wider range of women's styles that will launch this spring. Travel and day bags, oversized totes, and cross-body bags will all echo what we do for men, but in a way that makes sense for women. It will be a little more stylized and a little more fun, while speaking to a higher level of luxury."

When people think about making accessories, they immediately think about creating for ladies. What attracted you to designing for men?
"In the beginning I wanted to design what I knew, essentially creating something that I would want to wear. When I began Ernest Alexander, it was about creating that perfect men's bag, combining heritage materials with a refined design sensibility. I think what attracts me most to the men's side of fashion is that a lot of what we make will never go out of style. A classic overnight bag or beautifully cut blue oxford shirt will always be in fashion. In a lot of ways the same can be said for the women's side. With our upcoming women's line our goal is to bring that same enduring sensibility while mixing in a bit of fun and fashion along the way."

Photo: Eric Ryan Anderson/Ernest Alexander
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What was on your moodboard when you created the Blair Weekender? What were you inspired by?
"This may seem obscure but I had this vision of Katherine Hepburn from Bringing Up Baby. A classic American style grounded in timeless silhouettes, but done up in a contemporary way with a feeling of ease and refinement. We had this idea of creating 'new' American luxury. I think it has a lot to do with the way people are dressing these days, taking classic elements and shaping them in new ways. When we designed the Blair Weekender, my team and I collected inspirational images from vintage issues of Vogue and National Geographic, but we also mixed in current street style shots from different cities, focusing on how women carried their bags, their personal senses of style, and the shapes that made sense with our aesthetic."

Photo: Eric Ryan Anderson/Ernest Alexander" Shop It Now
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 How was the launch of your retail/pop-up shop? What is it like having a brick-and-mortar space?
"The Holiday Pop-Up Store has been great!  It's been amazing to meet a lot of customers face-to-face and hear feedback on how they have been enjoying our products. It also made a lot of sense to have an actual store where customers could come in and try our products in person. We recently launched our new line of shirts and jackets and so it's been a great way for people to see them in person, alongside our bags. From the very beginning, it's been my dream to have our own store and we definitely plan on finding a permanent space next year."

Photo: Eric Ryan Anderson/Ernest Alexander Shop It Now
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What sort of vacation, in your mind, is the Blair Weekender meant to go on?
"The Blair Weekender is perfectly sized for the weekend, but it can also double as an oversized day bag for the girl who likes to carry a lot (you know who you are!). We often referenced women who were leaving from Grand Central Station for the weekend, getting out of the city to see family, or on a weekend getaway upstate with friends. We wanted this to be a bag that not only looked elegant and stylish, out and about, but also would be easy to wear — heaven-forbid she is late for that train and has to run across the terminal in heels."

Want to snag your own weekender? Shop it now on Reserve!

Photo: Eric Ryan Anderson/Ernest Alexander"
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