Ethically made bags is the topic on the blog today as I meet Diana Rennie, founder & creative designer of DBR Bags – a brand that combines on-trend designs with ethical beliefs – ideal for the stylish, cosmopolitan and socially conscious woman. Hi and welcome Diana….
Hi! My name is Diana Rennie, I am the founder and creative director of DBR Bags, a recently launched independent luxury leather handbag brand. The handbags combine unique designs, expert craftsmanship and are ethically produced and they appeal to a diversity of women who love fashion and appreciate being on trend.
What inspired you to launch DBR Bags?
A few years ago my mum passed away at a relatively young age, following a short illness. My mum, whilst still alive, would have loved for me to pursue what she called my life’s purpose – fashion design… After she passed away, I needed something to let a little light into my life, a different focus. I thought I’d make a handbag – just a couple of hours, a little indulgence to take my mind off things for a little while. So, maybe you can say it started with that one handbag. A handbag, my mum would have loved, no doubt, as she loved fashion as much as I do and handbags held a special place in her heart. That one handbag turned into 20 as everyone I knew loved it and wanted one. That’s when I came up with the idea of the DBR brand – a collection of handbags of the highest quality, unique, head-turning, limited edition designs, ethically produced.
Have you always had a passion for fashion & bags?
My love for fashion and handbag making began in my teens if not even earlier. Obsessed with the latest trends, I’d spend hours teaching myself pattern cutting and sewing in order to duplicate the latest designer fashions as seen in Vogue or Elle. However, when the time came to apply for a University place, I lacked the confidence to follow my passion in fashion design and instead I chose a degree in French studies. I embarked on my University studies determined to focus on my studies and put behind me any thoughts of fashion and design. But, choosing French as a degree meant spending a year in Paris which in turn meant – you guessed it! – not being able to escape fashion! Hard to escape fashion in Paris! I remember getting to the last 3 months of my stay in Paris, leafing through my study folder and wondering how I’d managed to find my way to every fashion show in town not to mention put together over 100 sketches of clothes and accessories yet not find the time to get to a library and finish my dissertation… So, here I was again saying to myself to focus on my studies and put that fashion thing to one side. And yes, I did finish that dissertation, got my degree and pursued a very enjoyable career in teaching French until very recently.
When designing bags to add to your collection, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?
I only design when guided by inspiration. And I find inspiration in many places, some unexpected, some predictable. Sometimes, it could an element in nature like the shape of a leaf, or the colour of some striking flower like the bougainvillea. Sometimes it could be a casual remark made by friend or customer. I also love leafing through the Vogue editions of the 50s and 60s as they provide a wealth of ideas and inspiration.
I am personally rather smitten with the DBR Elodie Shoulder Bag. What bags are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?
Oh, thank you. One of my personal favourites too! The Fleur and Valentina bags were very much in demand in the summer months perhaps for obvious reasons. They’re both light hearted, flirty handbags that go hand in hand with a summer holiday vibe. Over the past couple of months we’ve had a great demand for the Sienna Tote and the Madison Satchel. They are both very versatile in that they can be worn in the daytime with smart clothing but come the weekend they can be worn just as elegantly with a pair of jeans.
Out of all the bags in your collection, what is your favourite?
It’s such a hard call! I fall in love with each and every handbag as I design it and then I fall in love with them all over again when I see the finished product. I might forget about a certain one which I might have designed a while ago, only to see it again and re-discover its beauty. Sometimes, when I revisit a handbag after a while, it takes me by surprise: ”Can’t believe I designed this one myself! It’s gorgeous!”
As a brand, your company strives to do its best by its customers, workforce and environment. You aim to do that by combining on-trend designs with ethical practices. So, how are your handbags produced ethically?
Firstly, I wanted the women wearing the DBR handbags to do so with pride, knowing that the handbags were created with respect to the workforce and the environment. To that extent I spent months finding the ideal factory which would enhance the lives of the talented and skilled people working there. The factories I work with, not only pay their workforce a fair living wage, but they also invest in the training and skill upgrade of their workforce, too. Besides, they engage in zero-waste sample making, creating minimum material waste and consuming as little energy as possible in production – all of which are key principles of reducing the environmental impact of production.
Hypothetically speaking, which famous lady (dead or alive) would be your ideal “face” of DBR Bags?
The face of DBR Bags is every woman who finds joy in wearing the handbags! The designs are varied in order to appeal to women of all different ages, from all different cultures and backgrounds, which luckily, indeed they do.
Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2017 – what styles/ colours do you hope to introduce to your collection?
Without giving too much away, let’s say that the accent will be on pastel colours and miniature shapes.
As you are based in the UK, are your bags available for overseas customers to order too?
The bags are available for sale worldwide and we also offer free shipping and returns worldwide.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I am quite a girly girl, so I feel most comfortable wearing a well-fitted dress and sky high heels, always accessorized with a DBR handbag, of course! In winter, I also love a nice Ted Baker coat as they are so beautiful and made to last. I know, high heels and comfortable it’s a bit of a contradiction but I can’t even walk in flat shoes, I constantly trip up in them!
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (apart from your own!)
I do! I love to shop for pieces that I can wear time and again as I don’t appreciate the fast-fashion concept – too damaging to the environment. I love Ted Baker, Karen Millen and Coast as their designs are quite unique and the finished product is guaranteed to last. I also love Gucci shoes, their designs are jaw-dropping! I started saving for a pair a few years’ ago and I’ll let you know when I’ve managed to save enough!
What’s next on your clothes/shoe/bag wish list?
At the moment I’m focused on the next handbag collection which is not far off from being completed. Then, ideally I would love the opportunity to launch a footwear collection.
Boots or Shoes?
Possibly shoes to start with, because as a designer a shoe collection would stretch your creative abilities more and I always like a challenge!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about DBR Bags.
Yes, you can find our online shop at www.DBRbags.co.uk and we would also like to offer your readers an exclusive 30% off website wide by using the code DBRTAKE30 at checkout.
Also, we would love for your readers to say hello to us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DBRbags/
or twitter: @DBRbags
Thank you so much the discount offer Diana – that’s Christmas sorted or perhaps a New Year’s treat for yourself. Dear readers, I’ve been wondering – do you buy handbags to match your footwear or do you buy bags that just catch your eye? I buy a bag because it catches my eye, irrespective if it actually matches my outfit or footwear. I remember in the 1970/1980s the trend was matching shoes and bag ensemble… So I acquired many bags in all colours to match my shoes…. Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!
All photographs have been published with kind permission from Diana Rennie and DBR Bags.