LESLIE HSU’S DESIGN PHILOSOPHY IS “SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE.”
Byline: Jeannie Chen
When Leslie Hsu began designing handbags, she had three very different women in mind.
“I thought about myself, my mother and my sister-in-law and how our tastes vary. I wanted to create bags that would appeal to a true sense of style, something that many women could appreciate,” said Hsu.
The product of this musing is a collection of sleek, sexy bags with distinct accents like pheasant feathers and crystal studs. Hsu’s approach comes as no surprise, given her background in fabric research and sourcing for Calvin Klein. Her bags convey a sense of easy sophistication and a new take on minimalism.
“I like clean, simple lines, but I try to add something special and unexpected to each bag,” said Hsu. “Designing accessories was a natural progression from product development. Bags are a great way to express shapes, and I have more freedom to play with materials and find things that work together.”
Leslie Hsu New York is actually a husband-and-wife team made up of newlyweds Hsu and Gregory Besner. They started the company in March, just six months after their wedding. The combination of Hsu’s fashion and production skills with Besner’s business and finance experience has made the project a labor of love. Besner is in charge of sales and marketing, while Hsu works on everything from designing to picking materials to working directly with the mills and tanneries.
“I’m the designer and the secretary,” said Hsu, “I get to do everything myself to make sure it’s all perfect.”
In her first season, Leslie Hsu New York has achieved a balance between the embellished and polished trends of the moment. Coincidentally, her last name (pronounced “soo”) is also the Chinese word for tranquility and a sense of peace.
“My name has always been symbolic in my life, and I wanted to express that in my bags,” said Hsu. Each of her bags has the Chinese character “hsu” engraved on the hardware. It is another example of the attention to detail her designs carry.
Leslie Hsu New York’s fall collection will hit stores in August. The bags have been purchased by more than 50 doors, including Stanley Korshak, Dallas; Intermix, N.Y., and Madison-Fred Segal, Los Angeles, with projected sales of $500,000-$600,000 within the year. Wholesale prices range from $118 to $250.