Carried Away

Brief bag, leather series
by Meredith Fisher
Every woman working in the city has experienced the sound of files crunching against the tug of a zipper or the awkward weight of a synthetic laptop bag rubbing the shoulder (and snagging the cashmere). "I just couldn't handle carrying my computer around in that ugly looking case anymore," says engineer-cum-handbag designer Cindy Lam. So she teamed up with childhood friend and fellow working girl Genie Tang, and GT & CL bags were born. The line debuted this past spring with two functional but fashion-forward designs, the Brief Bag and the Brief Clutch.
The two met while growing up in Hong Kong and reunited in New York after college. Both lacking the proper arm-candy to transport their laptops, files, and other office accoutrements, they looked at their challenges—a design that would fall right along the side, a shoulder bag that wasn't cumbersome and didn't look the same as everyone else's, plus a bag with even just a touch of femininity. Taking such inventory eventually led to a stylish solution. "The Brief Bag works because of the single arm band at the top," says Tang who studied at Parsons and is trained as an industrial designer. "It allows the bag to rest perfectly at your side," she says, demonstrating how such a small design element can change everything. The form that followed led Lam and Tang to source quality leathers from Italy and hardware from Japan, but the two oversee all their manufacturing in New York, where they both live.
"We met with a little shop here that could make the line for us," says Cindy, "and while it was a bit more expensive, it was worth it to have the added value of something made locally." The inspiration of a man's briefcase is evident in the brushed-brass lock that accents the front of each bag, but the masculinity stops there: scalloped edges dotted with circular hardware is reminiscent of old steamer trunks, while the soft suede lining screams luxe. For fall, they've added a woven cashmere wool and leather combo to the collection, but future steps to expansion are taken thoughtfully. "We want to keep things simple," says Cindy. "Our plan is to make only 100 of each color in each design every season. This ensures each bag is exclusive, and the chances that you'll see someone else carrying it will be slim."
To that end, every GT & CL bag is marked with an embossed serial number on the interior to indicate the series and collection. By spring '07, they'll have introduced an additional style—a vertical shape fashioned to fit files and magazines—and other leather accessories such as wallets and key chains are also a possibility. "We've used quality materials and given our bags a classic design because we want people to be able to wear them season to season," the designers add. Working girls rejoice.
GT & CL is available at Dane 115, 115 Crosby Street, 212-431-1295, New York, and Sample, 7374 Beverly Boulevard., 323-965-0098, Los Angeles;
Brief Bag, wool series
Ditching the old laptop tote for something chic.

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