DALLAS — After designing for Fossil and other brands for 30 years, Sarah White struck out on her own with a line of streamlined leather handbags at middle designer prices.
“My real motivation was a personal one,” said White, whose designs helped grow Fossil’s leather goods business from $10 million to $450 million. “I’m very busy, an entrepreneur and mother, and I really felt there was a need for beautifully crafted bags of fine Italian leather that were timeless, versatile and functional.”
White saw a gap in the market for quality bags retailing for under four figures. Her eight streamlined styles range from $295 for a small top-zip bag to $750 for a large backpack that converts to a shoulder bag. Her first season was spring 2017.
“Sarah White is the sweetest person ever and the bags are incredible,” said Katie Webb, accessories buyer for the Shak at Stanley Korshak in Dallas. “They’re so sleek, and any age group can wear them. She put so much thought into the details that it’s a really smart bag. We’ve had so many people coming in and wanting them, and I’ve had people buy the backpack in more than one color.”
The boxy silhouettes are lined in gray microsuede with spaces for a phone, pens and credit cards, eliminating the need to carry a wallet. The bestsellers are the top-zip pouch and fold-over clutch — each $295 and equipped with wrist straps plus detachable brass chains that double as necklaces. White also offers three separate, interchangeable chain straps that can be worn as jewelry.
Laptop-friendly backpacks finished with leather straps plus top handles have also done well.
“Women are responding to the clean and versatile design as well as the ability to carry it as a backpack, sling or top handle,” said White, who manufactures in China.
For fall, Sarah White bags are available in dusty rose, bordeaux and a mosaic print plus year-round solid bone, black, gray and persimmon. She’s also introducing a double top-zip bag with cross-body leather strap and a detachable short-shoulder chain.
White picked up 15 upscale specialty accounts her first season, including Peter Hermann Leather Goods in New York.