The first time I met Kim White was in Las Vegas at the mega-hotel Mandalay Bay.
I was a trade show newbie and couldn’t pick my bottom lip up for how in awe I was of all the great designers. I’d been writing about fashion for a few years and had already written about Kim White for a regional publication.
Then I saw her setting up. A tall, slender Jo from Facts of Life type. My immediate thought was, “Hey, she’s got a cool, tough girl look.”
I realized who she was and actually ran at her and said “Hey! You’re Kim White!”
Kim turned around, long, dark hair hanging in her face, said, “Yup,” and kept setting up like if she turned her back on me I’d disappear.
“Well,” I said, “I love your bags and it’s great to meet you.”
Passing by her the next day, relaxed and all set up for buyers, Kim gave me a wave.
This time – slightly more composed – I smiled and kept walking. Kim is too cool, I think. Not only am I into her bags, now I want her belts.
I got the chance to speak with Kim recently about her designs and creative vision.
How did you “fortuitously” discover all the upholstery fabrics you use for your bags?
Well…I had designed some styles and was looking for some interesting textiles. I knew I did not want to start in leather. A friend of mine’s boyfriend turned me on to a guy in South Central LA who was going out of business. He said he had some interesting fabrics. When I showed up it was all vintage car fabrics from the 70s and 80s. It was my lucky day! I knew I had something that no one else had. There were tens of thousands of yards of this stuff. All mint condition, in rolls, never been used. And all tagged with the year and maker, complete with swatch books. It was meant to be.
What’s your favorite fabric?
The Camaro, of course.
What do you think makes your designs withstand trends?
Well, I don’t pay attention to trends. I’ve always dressed in my own way. Trends are to be avoided. I really love vintage, and am inspired by it. Therefore, my bag and my belt lines are a retro-inspired. My favorite decade being the 70s. The 70s was the best decade for music, although I do love the 80s for fashion. But for bag and belts I really love the easy-loving 70s.
Have you always been drawn to pretty bags?
I’m not sure if “pretty” is the word. I guess I have always been drawn to interesting, different bags. Something that no one else has.
Do you consider yourself an eco-designer?
I did not intend to be an eco-designer. But if the shoe fits…
You recently added belts to your line. Any other additions in the works?
Yes! I’m totally excited about my new soy candle line! I love candles, and now I have an entire line with twelve scents that are so great. All eco-friendly, biodegradable soy-based, cotton wicks, essential oils. I just started shipping to stores last week. The rose is gorgeous. And gardenia, lemongrass. You will love it!