BERLIN POSTCARD: Two and a half years have passed since Tina Lutz moved to Berlin with her husband Justin Morris and son. What was supposed to be a one-year stay melded into two, and a return date has not yet been set.
In that short stretch, she started her own highly crafted accessories label Lutz Morris. In its second season, the line has the unusual provenance of being a New York-founded company that operates out of Berlin run by a German-born designer who still feels right at home in New York. After attending this week’s CFDA Awards and before her European-bound departure, Lutz said she plans to have quarterly New York business trips.
Lutz Morris’ new collection has also been expanded to include styles like a shopper tote and an evening bag with a gold-plated brass chain. There are also unexpected treatments such as intarsia, and special touches like double-latch closures, exterior back pocket, handwoven jute and cotton handles. The exotic-looking designs are actually hand-painted embossed Italian calf leather.
Before returning to Germany on Tuesday, Lutz talked about her transcontinental business. While in New York, she showed her collection in a friend’s spacious garden in Chelsea. It will also be shown in Paris and London. After launching exclusively with Matches in November, the company’s pre-fall collection will be available Stateside at saks.com, Totokaelo, Goop and Savannah, among other outposts. “We started really small because I had to be sure that the factory could grow with us. But now we will see after the selling season who else comes on board and what else we can take on,” Lutz said.
What jumps out at her about New York isn’t just “a lot of empty storefronts,” she said. “Everybody is very insecure about what’s happening and how to handle business. I feel there is a big shift happening.”
As for Berlin, Lutz said it reminds her of what New York was like when she moved here in 1992, “Berlin is such a vibrant and cool city. It is still one of the most affordable capitals in Europe. It attracts a lot of creatives, artists and start-ups, because everyone can afford to be in the city,” she said.”There are a lot of American and Canadian start-ups because labor is cheaper. And young kids want to live here.”
She continued, “It’s like in the early Nineties, when everyone could afford to live in New York. There were still pockets of art galleries and event spaces. That’s what Berlin is. There is so much energy with so much going — a very young city. It’s exciting. There are times when I walk down the street and hear only English but it’s super-international.”
Lutz plans to up her New York visit from two a year to four. “I’ve decided that I need more time to meet with celebrity stylists and everything else,” she said.