There are many designers who claim to blend the lines between fashion and art. But Kent Stetson, the handbag designer known for prints and color, is a true testament to the mending fashion and art.
When we took a minute to look over his extensive collection of handbags, we found exotic leathers, fun print clutches and so much more. Having graduated from Brown University after studying Science, Stetson become interested in new media and hybrid digital/traditional fine art. So in 2003 he presented one of his digital paintings of a handbag and the rest is history.
I hope that by blurring the line between art and fashion I can in some small way inspire people to live beautifully. – Kent Stetson
Intrigued by his fun and covetable designs, we sat down with the designer to discuss leather working, his connection to the 303 and his unique approach to design.
303 Magazine: Tell us a bit more about your brand, philosophy and aesthetic.
Stetson: I started making handbags in 2003 after my first professional art show failed to produce sales. At the time I worked in a women’s shoe store, and I sewed the unsold wall pieces into handbags. They sold immediately. Bags started as a framing device for my art, they since have become my medium. Since the early days of shaping my vibrantly-colored abstract art into handbags, I now focus in two categories of handbag design: prints and leatherwork.
Thematically my designs cover a spectrum from traditionally artistic to kitsch. I am very committed to being not only a designer, but a maker – as a result we are not trend driven. We are making bags that are continuation of a story, not a way to keep a manufacturer busy while we guess what trends will be covered by fashion magazines six months from now. For me that formula for mass production is uninspiring and a waste of my energy.
303: Can you speak to us a bit more about your background in art and fashion design?
Technically, our bags may fall under classification as “craft”, but the functionality of our creations does not eclipse the artistry. Our creations possess both painterly and sculptural attributes. – Kent Stetson