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Christian Stroble is ready to take another shot.
This story first appeared in the July 18, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The stylist-designer-creative consultant had a women’s ready-to-wear collection called Eventide from 2004 to 2008, but the recession put an end to that dream. “We did it for four years and it was in Barneys; they wrote about it in Harper’s Bazaar, and celebrities such as Natalie Portman and socialites such as Tinsley Mortimer wore it. It had a following, but we just didn’t have the backing, so we had to close it,” he said.
So Stroble switched gears, working as a stylist for brands and retailers such as Banana Republic, Bloomingdale’s, Gant Rugger, Gilt, Hugo Boss, J. Lindeberg and K-Swiss while also styling celebrities for magazines.
But the desire to design never disappeared, and for spring, he will launch a collection of men’s leather bags under the Christian Stroble name.
“It’s a small collection,” he said. “I’m keeping it niche.” There will be a number of classic styles, including a sack bag, a shopper, a weekender, a messenger, a briefcase, a duffle and a “man clutch,” targeted to the contemporary consumer.
Stroble said that while the silhouettes may be classic, they’re “rendered with a lived-in, weathered and tactile sensibility.
“I want every bag to feel like your favorite worn-in leather jacket,” he said, pointing to the “slightly aged patina” of the pieces. “Since I’m a stylist, I’m always in search of lightweight, functional bags that have good style. I’m not into heavy, structured bags.” The Christian Stroble models have a “slight drape to them, but still hold their shape,” he said, utilize antique brass hardware and are manufactured in the U.S. from Tuscan leather. The bags are not lined — “I want them raw,” he noted — but they’re treated with a spray at the tannery so the interior doesn’t wear off. The logo for the line draws its inspiration from Stroble’s grandfather’s World War II dog tags.
Stroble said there is an investor financing the collection, although he wouldn’t identify the backer. Sales for the collection are being handled by Indigo Showroom in New York, and Stroble is planning a press event in September for editors and other influencers.
Final price points have not been set, but Stroble expects the sack bag to sell for $550 and the weekender to retail for more than $1,000. He is also setting up a Web page at stroblenewyork.com with images from the look book.
Now five years removed from his last design project, Stroble said he learned he needed to “have all the right pieces in place before starting a brand again — a strong business partner, a reliable sales team, and to work with a niche market to start small and really understand the craft, product, what the market is in need of and who my customer is.”