On horseback much of her life, Heather Emch’s love of playing polo has extended off the field and into the design studio. Unable to resist a tack room filled with saddles and bridles, Emch has harnessed that inspiration into a line of leather cuffs called Bar H Brand, another option for the arm-candy craze.
The social worker-turned-designer is mixing earthy ruggedness with a little femininity and shine in her collection of cuffs, both thick and skinny, featuring skins found on land and in the sea, from bison to stingray.
“It’s about polo country-meets-rodeo chic,” said Emch, who grew up competing in the equestrian sport of three-day eventing. “It’s for the girl who can wear a couture dress with Frye boots.”
Based in Spokane, Wash., her collection of 40 styles can snap on or fasten with a buckle. Made by saddle craftsmen, the looks range from edgy — such as the Skinnies group loaded with studs — to earthy, like Firebrand, which features calfskin cuffs fire-branded with a cow skull image — to avant-garde, like the Stingray. Emch adorns them with stars, studs and rivets in sturdy metals like nickel, copper and brass.
Adding to her accessories collection, Emch plans to bring skinny and thick belts embellished with buckles along with round handbags with calf hide inlays and roan calf hide purses to WWDMAGIC (Booth AC 74245). Wholesale prices start at $30 for the skinny cuffs, at $30 for belts and at $150 for purses. First-year sales are expected to hit $100,000.
Bar H Brand currently sells online and at Cues boutique in Spokane, which carries brands such as Edun and Ulla Johnson.
“It’s a style my customers relate to,” said Trish Thoen, owner of Cues. “It’s a quality product they can wear with denim or dress up. It makes a great layering piece.”
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