NEW YORK — Giovanni Mesa doesn’t believe in overnight success, but after studying design for just one week at Parsons The New School for Design here, he felt he knew enough to start his own company.
“I’m a hands-on kind of person,” said Mesa, who is launching an eponymous handbag line that will begin retailing this fall. “I felt I could learn a lot more in the field. I’ve never been the type of person who could study, then get it. [Design was] always more of a physical thing to me.”
Mesa, 24, studied installation art at the New World School of the Arts in his native Miami before moving here and pursuing an internship in the women’s apparel division of Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. He went on to work in the women’s design departments at Jones New York and Paper Denim & Cloth. It was at Paper Denim that he received the encouragement to pursue his own business.
He said Alex Gaines, Paper Denim & Cloth’s co-founder, “would pore through my sketchbook and say, ‘You’ve really got a talent here.'”
Gaines is now the primary financial backer of Mesa’s line.
The handbag collection comprises five styles, each with distinctive leather and finishes. A large tote with leather top handles and patch pockets is designed from walnut-colored lambskin that has been acid-dyed to create an ombré effect. Another shoulder bag incorporates laser-printed leather that appears iridescent. A hobo style features ivory lambskin that is crinkled for added texture. Also, a black calf-hair clutch has an ostrich leg skin flap and piping at the gussets.
“I got an education from the tanneries on what you can and cannot do with certain leathers,” said Mesa, adding his Cuban grandmother, a handbag sample maker, helped him learn pattern skills.
The line bows at Curve and Blue Bee in Los Angeles at the end of June and ranges in wholesale price from $358 to $470. Mesa anticipates entering 15 to 20 additional doors for the fall season.
“Handbags are such a dynamic object that women love, have and can’t live without,” Mesa said. “I don’t want my bags to be classic. I want girls to think they’re something special. I love giving it a bit of a kick.”