This article is part of a series of interviews conducted by LIM students with winners of the Accessories Council's 2019 Design Excellence Awards (DEA). Students are enrolled in Fashion Merchandising Professor Andrea Kennedy's Introduction to the Fashion Business class.
If you’ve never heard of Hammitt Los Angeles, boy are you missing out! Hammitt is a premium handbag company based in Hermosa Beach, California. The company was just awarded an Accessories Council Design Excellence Award for their Dillon bag. The Dillon won top honors in the Council’s “Best Handbag Under $1000” category. The clutch is offered in numerous colors and includes six-way reversibility. Its design is so innovative, in fact, that you could wear it differently nearly every day of the week!
We were fortunate enough to dive deeper into this unique brand and interview two members of the Hammitt team: Head Designer Jeanne Allen and Founder and Chairman Tony Drockton.
Could you tell us about yourselves and how you started with Hammitt?
Jeanne: I had the opportunity to attend a sample sale for Hammitt to discover the brand. I took on the position as a designer for the company in 2014.
Tony: I took a not-so-straight path to fashion by way of graduate school, studying finance in Ohio, then tailing out to LA as quickly as I could. I had a roofing business and went into developing real estate. Both did well, but when I started Hammitt, I needed to set the groundwork for the success of the company. Hammitt is by far the biggest and the most successful thing I’ve done. Hammitt encompasses all my true passions, and that’s what has made the difference.
We love how innovative your bag is with its six-way reversibility, did you face problems in the making of this bag?
Jeanne: When you have reversible flaps, you must be conscious about the materials you are using in order for the flaps to bend and hang flat in opposing directions while overlapping each other. We also must consider cost when pushing for high quality raw material without compromising on the many functions.
We saw on your website that all your bags are imagined, sketched, and designed in Hermosa Beach. Why did you choose to work in Hermosa Beach?
Tony: We live in a beautiful, tiny beach community. It’s a delightfully social place where people know each other and help each other, but don’t get bogged down talking about work. This is the exact energy and sense of community we want our brand to embody. I feel that when people buy Hammitt around the globe, they might not have experienced Hermosa in person. Still, they feel it when they wear our bags.
What was the inspiration behind the "Dillon bag”?
Jeanne: The idea came from wanting to combine multiple functions into one bag, creating a six-in-one look. The bag has a compartment for everything needed for a typical day. Customers may wear it casually or flip it around for a more sophisticated look.
Tony: The Dillion bag is so unique, yet so utilitarian. I like to call it “functional luxury.” The Dillon has so much versatility, from different looks to plenty of pockets and the option between styling it as a crossbody or a clutch.
It always seems you want to do more. What is the next step you want to take for Hammitt?
Tony: The next step is for more people to carry our existing collections and to touch more lives of individuals who don’t know who we are. We want to meet friends of friends and become their go-to brand.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned working in this industry? Do you have any advice for us as first-year college students in the fashion industry?
Jeanne: Travel while you have the time, always be open to learning from anyone, and make the most of your time because it goes faster than you think.
Tony: Be involved in school. Stay after class, talk to teachers, make the most out of everything you learn and the opportunities you are given.
Tony added, “Hammitt is the bag that is going to last, as these bags were designed to hold more of their value than any other American handbag brand.” This bag holds its quality, so you can one day hand it down to your daughter.
We are very grateful to have interviewed both Jeanne and Tony about the Dillon bag and to have learned more about the fantastic products Hammitt offers. We want to thank the Hammitt team for taking the time to answer our questions and letting us get to know their amazing brand.
We’re on our way to pick up our bags now!