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Rebecca Minkoff

The designer is renowned for her handbags, but she tells Laura Weir why she wishes she’d created a humble straw tote.

What’s your average day like?

There is no average day for me. When I’m in New York and not travelling - which is often - I usually start my day really early. In the spring I bike to work, then the meetings begin. I like to touch base with everyone so I know what’s happening. I then usually eat a quick lunch of sushi or a salad before devoting the second half of the day to designing and production. Making sure everything looks perfect is super important to me.

You’re best known for your handbags. But which bag do you wish you had designed?

Definitely Jane Birkin’s straw tote that inspired the Hermès Birkin bag. It’s said she was carrying the straw tote because she couldn’t find the perfect everyday bag - I would have loved to put my signature on that straw tote.

How many handbags do you own?

A lot, but less than you would expect. I only wear my bags so I’m often borrowing the samples I keep for my archives.

From where do you get your design inspiration?

My travels. I also love digging through old photographs of different places and people. I’m always finding images that are beautiful and completely inspire me.

How do you think UK consumers differ from their US counterparts?

The UK consumer has such a history with fashion. For example, Burberry was founded in 1856 and has been such an important part of UK fashion. I think because of these types of long-standing UK brands, the consumers are much more conscious about buying a relatively new brand. They tend to be looking for something very special - I’m hoping to be able to fill that void in the UK market.

Following the recession in the UK, lots of independent boutiques are looking to gain add-on sales from stocking accessories and jewellery. How are you planning to capitalise on this?

Rebecca Minkoff is a full lifestyle brand now. There is a full clothing line, bags, shoes, and small leather goods. Now I’m offering someone the chance to have a full Rebecca Minkoff look.

Are you launching clothing in the UK?

Not right now but stay tuned - it will be available soon.

How many UK stockists do you have at the moment and how many are you aiming for?

We have more than 10 stockists. I’m very excited to be launching with Harvey Nichols for spring 11. And I’m so excited that [designer womenswear indie] Austique on King’s Road in London, which has been with me since the very start of Rebecca Minkoff, is opening a second store that we’ll be in.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

Getting the phone call from Steven Kolb, executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, to say I’d been admitted. I instantly shouted and swore. I just couldn’t contain my excitement.

Quickfire questions

Where do you like to shop and why?

I’m a big fan of vintage shopping. I like to be unique and have unique pieces. My absolute favourite places are the markets in London.

Who in the industry inspires you?

[US Vogue editor] Anna Wintour is a true inspiration for me. She’s powerful, she’s a trendsetter and she’s someone whose influence extends beyond fashion.

Which celebrity do you think accessorises best?

Sienna Miller. I love her boho-savvy style and the way she mixes and matches accessories with her outfits - the ease with which she does that seems effortless.

Rebecca Minkoff is founder of the eponymous women’s accessories and clothing label

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