Your father’s iconic sportswear designs are famous. How has his work inspired you and your designs?
My father is very much a part of my brand, as his penmanship of Tyler Alexandra is my logo and inside each one of my designs, which is very special to me. I have been lucky enough to have close friends of his in my life who share stories with me about his life and I feel a very strong connection with him. I have looked through the archives of all of his designs and they were so revolutionary for the time. He trusted his instincts, and never looked back. He inspires me to follow my dreams and to not be afraid to take risks. I feel his presence with me always.
You worked for Michael Kors after completing your studies. Did this help to inspire you to launch your own label?
Fashion has always been a huge passion of mine but I was afraid to pursue it because of my father’s great achievements. I graduated from Boston University with a degree in communications and moved back home to LA to look for a career in television. My gut told me I was heading in the wrong direction and I felt it was time to follow my dream. I got a job at Michael Kors in New York and fell in love with the business. And here I am today!
Many impressive women carry your designs. Do you have a specific woman in mind when you’re designing?
Tyler Alexandra is luxurious, artisanal and contemporary, yet equally timeless, understated and effortless at the same time: very much the thoughtful woman’s bag! I design for the modern woman who is constantly on the go, yet appreciates beautiful things. I believe in functional luxury. Pockets are everywhere and each bag comes with a detachable chain or strap.
Could you tell us about the use of pinecone motif in your designs?
A few years back, before I began Tyler Alexandra, I visited the Vatican and the large pinecone in the Pigna court made an impression on me. After that, travelling around Europe, I kept noticing pinecones all around the cities – whether as doorknobs, on top of gateposts or on the tops of tea kettles, pinecones are everywhere! I started researching pinecones and found that the powerful symbolism dates back to ancient Egypt, where pharaohs used them as the tops of their staffs in order to achieve the highest form of spiritual illumination. So when I was coming up with a symbol for Tyler Alexandra, what better than the powerful pinecone? I use the pinecone as zipper pulls and feet for my bags.
You are known for using exotic skins including ostrich, python and crocodile. What inspired you to experiment with these?
The natural beauty of exotics has always excited me. No two skins are the same, making each piece that much more special. Calf leather is beautiful, but expected, and to me, luxury is anything but expected. Exotic skin bags exert an excitement and desire like nothing else. They are show-stopping pieces that last forever. The perfect bag to me is a clean, simple shape, letting the skin speak for itself. Texture is everything.
What do you always keep in your own handbag?
Lip gloss, credit card, ID, hard candies and a charger – though next season I am adding an emPowered charger to my larger day bags.
How would you describe your personal style?
I grew up in Los Angeles, so I have a very relaxed sense of style. I live in Rag & Bone V-neck tees, jeans and jean shorts, and always flats, unless I’m forced into heels. I usually stick to neutrals, and love accessorising with my Tyler Alexandra bags!
Where do you travel for design inspiration?
I love to travel! My last trip was to Hong Kong, Singapore, Jakarta and Tokyo. I’m heading to Anguilla next week. The beauty of travelling the world is exploring all the different cultures, people-watching and meeting wonderful new people. To me, this is the best form of inspiration.
Your luxury handbags are stocked at Joseph and Fortnum & Mason. Where do you like to shop when you’re in London?
I love shopping in London! Joseph is one of the best-curated boutiques in the world and I can’t leave London without stopping by, though my credit card always feels the pain after. Fortnum & Mason, to me, is the most iconic store in London and it's such an honour for me to have my bags carried there. The accessories, tea, food and wine are an absolute must while in London!
What’s next for the Tyler Alexandra brand?
2016 is going to be a big year for me! I have a couple of collaborations coming out, some new day bag styles – and a few other exciting things up my sleeve…