For Tina Lutz, an industry vet and co-founder of beloved womenswear label Lutz & Patmos, launching a luxury handbag line wasn't part of the plan.
"It kind of found me," she tells Fashionista over the phone from her home base of Berlin, Germany. "I wasn't looking for it."
After Lutz & Patmos shuttered, Lutz served as Creative Director of luxury knitwear label TSE from 2012 to 2015 and moved back to Berlin with her family, while consulting with German fashion brands. One day, her husband gifted her with a cigar box-like, gilded-frame leather case for her desk. "I fell in love with the box," Lutz recalls. "I suddenly was like, 'oh my god, I have so many ideas for bags that could use this technique."
Starting with the "Made in Germany" manufacturer's stamp on the lining of the box, she played online detective to track down the factory, eventually making an old-school telephone call to pitch the owner her new concept.
The result: Lutz Morris, a line of impeccably designed and incredibly chic bags, ranging from a classic, structured shoulder bag with a short, wide strap, to a very on-trend jewel box-size belt bag that I need right now, all with a gilded metal frame and elegant clasps. The refined box design also features thoughtful functionality with card slots on the top interior lid and easy access to contents via one hand (as opposed to fumbling with a zipper or a flap using both).
While Lutz Morris encompasses "core colors" of olive, navy, ivory and black, the line also plays with inventively contrasting specialty leathers, like croc- or python-embossed calf leather with each of the twice-a-year seasonal collections. "What I really tried to do is create every bag as like a perfect object that goes with different outfits," Lutz says. Pricing ranges from $660 for a small clutch to $1,670 for a croc-embossed cross-body. After Lutz successfully tested the waters with trunk shows around Europe (and New York), Lutz Morris officially debuted on Matchesfashion.com in October 2017 and just launched e-commerce earlier this month.
Although Lutz Morris is a new endeavor, the handbag line embodies three principles that the designer has adhered to since her Lutz & Patmos days. The first is responsible production: "I feel like we're all in a privileged business," Lutz explains. "What we're creating needs to give back [positively]."
To keep her carbon footprint as small as possible, Lutz sources 90 percent of the calf leather from a tannery that's "literally half an hour away" from the factory near Cologne, Germany. "I love that sometimes the son picks up the leather in his Prius," Lutz adds. Although, the specialty embossed leathers — like the very authentic-looking (and feeling) pythons and croc designs — are sourced from Northern Italy, about a five-hour drive away. The hand-sautered, 5-micron gold-plated chains — "the highest standard" to ensure the plating won't flake off — are made in the same town as the factory, as well as the packaging. And the delicate, signature gold frames are handmade in a neighboring town by a long-running factory — in business since 1860 — which leads to her second "box," to check off: supporting local artisans.
"It was always a passion for me to support artisans and to maintain their craft," Lutz says. "Because otherwise they won't be here in 10 to 15 years." She also takes pride in fostering close working relationships with all the people, from the frame-makers to the factory managers, who are crafting her bags from start to finish.
"My third box is altruism," explains Lutz, who also created the Lutz & Patmos Guest Designer program, which collaborated with famous fashion and entertainment figures, like Julianne Moore, Sofia Coppola and Christy Turlington to donate to a select charity. For Lutz Morris, she decided to go all in by donating $10 from every bag sold to Turlington's nonprofit, Every Mother Counts, which advocates for women's health around the world.
"Christy Turlington is a very dear old friend of mine," says Lutz, who just ran the Berlin Marathon with the original supe. "We have known each other for 17 years and I saw her start Every Mother Counts and know firsthand how dedicated she is and what amazing work the charity does. So that was a no brainer when I wanted to take a charity to support."
With its eye-catching yet versatile design and contribution to social good, we see no reason why Lutz's second act couldn't reach the same cult status as her first.