Tuesday, October 6, 2009

the sublime patterns of Vera Bradley

by frédérik sisa

Purse Envy n. The state of envying a purse you cannot have for yourself. Not to be confused with Freudian kinds of envy.

Here’s a vicious little catch-22. Pockets are great for holding the vitals, except for that unfortunate bulging effect that ruins the sleek look. Purses and clutches (or “man purses” and “mlutches”) along with various messenger bags and the like are great for maintaining smooth lines…but you have to carry the darn things. And remember to take them with you as you leave. There may not be a solution to the dilemma, except for the usual choose the right accessory for the right occasion. Of course, part of that choice, especially for the ladies, might just be a little easier with a little (or big) something-something from Vera Bradley.

The company has been around for 20 years. It began, as the website states, “While on vacation in March of 1982, [when] Patricia and Barbara were awaiting a flight in Atlanta when they noticed a definite lack of feminine-looking luggage. The longtime friends wasted no time in correcting this situation. Within weeks, these dynamic women had created a company, named after Barbara’s mother, capable of marketing and manufacturing their cleverly designed products.”

It’s all about the fabrics, of course - bold, expressive patterns that swirl and stripe, mosey and mosaic, break free and fall in line. But it really comes together when applying these patterns to a variety of products like handbags, wallets, totes, eyeglasses, ties, cufflinks, luggage, rugs…and a lot more. (Seriously. They have a lot of stuff.) It works very simply: choose your pattern and pick yourself a collection of matching accessories. Matchypoo heaven! The best thing is that for all the gorgeous packaging, a lot of thought has gone into the insides of the bags too. Pockets, zippers – all manner of things to help keep your stuff organized. The usual rule applies: balance patterns to avoid looking like an exploded textile factory. Vera Bradley makes it easy to go bold without going overboard.

(click image to embiggen)

Frankly, I’m not normally a pattern kind of guy. Call me monochromatic, but I generally prefer smooth minimalism (well, minimalish – I do enjoy strong ornamentation) with exceptions. However, the patterns at Vera Bradley are so beautifully detailed and colourful, I can’t resist. It says something that when my wife bought herself a few goodies I was just as excited at the prospect of choosing a fabric and accessories as she was.

Price-wise, Vera Bradley isn’t cheap-cheap. This Euro Wallet, for example, will run you $27. And this little over-the-shoulder everyday bag is $40. Then again, VB isn’t particularly expensive either. Perhaps it’s best to say that Vera Bradley delivers good value and quality for the price.

Last but not least, in looking over their latest collections I had a pleasant surprise – thereby proving the adage that optimists can never be pleasantly surprised. Vera Bradley has a men’s collection. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include bags and wallets, but the cufflinks, available in a slew of their signature patterns, sure are spiffy…

…as are the ties and pocket squares. Love it!

Anyone out there a Vera Bradley fan? How are you playing around with patterns in your wardrobe? Operators are standing by for your comments...

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