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  • Claire Kalikman

The Next-Gen It Bag

MEET CLAIRE AKKAN



What do you burn for?

Oh so much. How much time do we have? I’m trying to reconcile feeling like I’ve become the woman I’ve always wanted to be (I’m being featured in a fashion magazine!) with feeling like there’s still so much to do and see and create in this world. I burn to find creative fulfillment every day, to take full advantage of living in New York, to wear killer outfits that make me feel cool and comfortable and like I’m expressing something bigger than just the fabric. To balance consuming and creating. To make a huge, transformational mark on the fashion world and to produce slow, small-batch, one of a kind products. 



What is your intention with this brand and endeavor?

My intention is two-fold:


One, to learn about how to build my own supply chain. I went to a workshop in North Carolina in the fall to learn about domestic manufacturing and supply chain (sounds boring, but it’s really important!). There, I was inspired to just start working on my fashion production ideas. I told myself all I had to lose was money (not insignificant, but I had to make a bet on myself). So I set about sourcing bags, finding fabric, and partnering with a great cobbler to put it all together—my supply chain. 



Second, I’ve always loved bags and designer goods. But I felt uninspired by the idea of buying something anyone else could get, with the only thing uniting us that we both spent a ton of money on this product. So I thought to buy vintage designer bags and refurbish them with individual linings to match the bags and little details that make them unique. Now each bag has a special story and is unique to its wearer. 



What informs or inspires the mood or aesthetic of each piece?

Every piece is one of one—you will never see someone else with your exact bag. It makes the profit margin awful, but the experience of wearing it so special. I sourced the bags, buying lots (as in multiple things at auction, not a large quantity) of items where I had to guess at what might be in there at the tiny glimpses of logos in the low-quality eBay photos. These gorgeous Gucci, Cartier, and Loewe bags arrived at my apartment with their leather exteriors worn but still usable, and their synthetic linings utterly destroyed. I felt like I was saving the life of each of these bags, giving them a little love so they could live again. I brought each bag around to fabric stores and truly let my instincts guide me—the fabrics felt like they were calling out to jump into these bags. I found amazing remnants from runway shows gone by—fabrics from Carolina Herrerra, Marc Jacobs, Margiela made it inside these bags. I also sourced some vintage scarves from around the city, one of which found its way around the brown Longchamp bag.


One of my most amazing finds was a dark green suede Gucci bag—when researching the creative brief for this editorial, I found the bag in a 1994 Gucci magazine ad! But when that bag first arrived at my house, it was in such rough shape—scuffs on the suede, the lining completely peeled away. I gave it a funky green and purple lining and cleaned it up. It’s the perfect every-day size—I carried it all over Paris. I may have to keep it for myself. 



What is it about fashion, style, aesthetics, that you think makes your heart sing? How do you relate to fashion, style, aesthetics?

It’s amazing the power fashion has. On a daily basis, we can forget how much we dress impacts our identity. When I was a senior in high school, I was in a class called “Metamorphoses” and our final assignment was to metamorphosize into something else. I was ultra-introverted and didn’t really think people noticed me (in hindsight, I realize the bright turquoise true vintage ‘50s dress I wore to the first day of junior year may have drawn some eyes). On “Metamorphosis Day,” I dressed in the typical style of my classmates for the day. Yet everyone noticed. Everyone commented. Style is the truest expression of who we are. I know immediately when a piece of clothing is “not me.” And the days when I feel the best dressed are the days I feel most “me.” 



Favorite thing in your closet?

Currently the vintage blue Pucci dress I thrifted in Paris. It’s meant to have a high Victorian collar, but I leave it open and I added a hook-and-eye at the chest to make it into the kind of silhouette I gravitate toward. Another lesson in how garments can come to suit you with a little love (and a good tailor). It’s ankle-length (a feat on my nearly 6 foot tall frame) with long sleeves, making it feel demure enough for work. But it has a slit running up the side and is slightly sheer, making it just dangerous enough to cause a scene on the streets of New York. 


What does being Cool And Thoughtful mean to you? 

Right now, Cool and Thoughtful means making products that look and feel cool to wear, and that are crafted with intention. The bags are the perfect encapsulation of that. From the outside, they’re designer bags that look like they could’ve been passed down in your family through generations. But on the inside is a special secret just for you, in the form of the lining. I encourage everyone to add pins, scarves, ribbons, and anything else that makes it feel special (Kerrin added a gold chain as a handle to hers). They should evolve and live how you live and make you feel like the most you. Because isn’t that what being Cool And Thoughtful is all about?


Published in Cool and Thoughtful magazine.

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