Katherine Fleming to Launch Handbags

Tory Burch designer to create own line.

Her name might not be familiar to consumers yet, but Katherine Fleming — the force behind the accessories of several of today’s hottest brands — is ready to take her bow.

This story first appeared in the August 18, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Fleming, a 29-year-old Miami native who now resides in Manhattan, is launching her first signature line of accessories after designing behind the scenes at Club Monaco, The Gap and most recently Tory Burch, where she launched the brand’s accessories and was design director of accessories.

Her own collection has a modern, luxury bent with shoulder bags with linear trapunto detailing, python and stamped patent leather trim. Fleming’s interlocking “K” logo is incorporated subtly into the bags. The chain handles on some styles, such as an electric blue bag, are painted with a blue powder coating used to finish cars.

“I have loved accessories since I was a little girl,” said Fleming. “I loved to dress up with my mom’s hats, shoes and bags. Designing bags is interesting because you’re like an architect, building a little house for a woman’s belongings.”

The line retails from $850 for a clutch to $3,600 for a larger day bag. The average price is around $1,500.

Fleming’s official launch is for spring, but she is having a soft launch for fall with a few core styles that will sell at Barneys New York and Opening Ceremony beginning next month. Fleming has plans to eventually to go into footwear, small leather goods and costume jewelry. Her business partner and co-owner is Jane Seo, a fashion consultant who was most recently director of brand strategy and seasonal fashion merchandising for Limited Brands.

“Working with big brands gave me the knowledge and confidence to start my own line,” added Fleming, who also had stints at Michael Kors and Rod Keenan. “I know what to expect in the manufacturing process — there are always snags when you’re a big company — so this allows me to stay calm when things don’t go as planned.”

Tory Burch said, “Kate’s incredible taste and eclectic, modern sensibility [have been] an invaluable addition to our design team. When I first saw the bags from her line I was so excited by their unique look and craftsmanship. She has a real eye for details and that shows in her collection.”