Elena García Silva started her handbag line Lautēm after working in the architecture field for more than ten years. Based in Spain, each bag is made by local artisans in Spain and adhere to ethical working standards. The brand's rectangular bags are accented with a sturdy metal handle. Read on to learn more about the brand and where Elena gets inspired.
Pictured above 'My Funny Valentine'
You didn’t begin your career in the fashion world. Tell us a little about your background and the path that led you to accessories design and how has it influenced your work.
I am an architect, and I worked mainly on buildings for more than 10 years, but architecture is a discipline of design, so there is not much difference between designing one thing or another. It is all a matter of proportions, volumes, details, solutions and functionality.
What inspired you to name your brand Lautem?
Lautem comes from the Latin adverb 'Lautē' that means "excellently”. We choose a Latin word because it is a sort of common background between me, I am Spanish and my husband is Italian. And the search for excellence is the motto of the company. Excellence is the perfect excuse to give our best every day.
All of the pieces are handmade in Spain using locally sourced materials. Why is this so important to you?
What is really important for us on one side it is the security that all the people involved in the company receive the right compensation and the production does not cause harm to the environment. On the other side we personally know the artisans and their abilities - we are sure they can deliver an excellent product.
Who is the Lautem customer?
It is very difficult to answer to this question or at least I am not sure anymore. When I first designed the Structurae collection it was not meant to become commercial. It was an exercise for my creative pleasure. I personally sewed my first bag “My Funny Valentine” with some help from the artisans. So I guess I design mainly for myself, but now that everyone can buy my creations it surprises me how different types of people have gotten interested in them. We are also selling to men.
Is there a story behind the cheeky names of some of the styles, like “The Shorty George?”
The inspiration for Structurae collection is clearly Bauhaus and the modern movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s, so we started looking at names of songs from that period. We ended up using name of songs of old musicals. My Funny Valentine by Ella Fitzgerald was very inspiring. When we heard the words of that song we thought it was the perfect fit.
You have said, “Haste is the enemy of excellence.” How does that philosophy manifest itself in terms of the way you work and run your company?
If you ever had the opportunity to live in Ubrique, the village in Andalucia where they produce our bags, you would understand perfectly what I mean. When you are stressed and always on the run you will produce only something that is acceptable and not something that is excellent. It is a matter of priorities in life that influence the way we do business. We are not in this to become rich, we are in this business to do something we like and deliver a product that satisfies us and hopefully also our customers. We don’t work with timelines or follow seasons. This year we will launch a new collection that we had been working on for more than one year. We finessed all the details until it was ready to go.
What is next for the brand?
As I said we will launch a new collection very soon that will introduce the curve and will play with asymmetry. We are also working on a more unisex line or business line, but there is still a lot of work to do and as I said before there is no deadline and no hurry to launch it.
Interview by Ina Michel | Styling & Photography by Alison