New York-based clothing label Loup has been on the radar of every cool girl since designer Danielle Ribner launched the brand in 2009.
Loup is renown for dresses, separates and outerwear that are feminine, flattering and vintage-inspired. The clothing is entirely produced in New York and, although it's fashion, there's nothing "fast" about it. Loup has been making its way into the hearts and closets of its customer base since its inception but very quickly amassed a celebrity cult following, counting Blake Lively and Kate Bosworth as fans. Even the Loup Instagram, which is run by Ribner, is a hidden gem of inspiration for some of fashion's leading ladies, including Natalie Suarez of Natalie Off Duty.
Ribner is now poised to launch her first collection of handbags, which are vegan and designed in a lightweight microsuede. The collection, which is now available for pre-order, will be available to shop in late February. Offered in a variety of colors, the new collection features a tote, a backpack and a purse, and prices range from $176 to $187.
We recently caught up with Ribner to discuss the bags, her favorite place to chill in New York, and which fashion insiders she's following on Instagram. Read on for our exclusive interview with Danielle Ribner of Loup.
Fashion Times: Tell us about the inspiration behind the bags. Did you have a certain woman in mind when you were designing them?
Danielle Ribner: I wanted to make really functional, lightweight but cool bags.
I found myself always buying basic black bags because I thought that if I was going to spend a ton of money on a nice bag it should be useful. I wanted to give my customers the opportunity to buy something really inspiring and exciting but also functional and affordable and easy to work with all day.
[It's] for a woman who is a professional and is going from day to night but also wants to take that bag traveling and not worry about ruining it.
They're [the bags] made from a microsuede fabric and they're completely washable. They're insanely lightweight but very durable.
FT: You've had the clothing brand Loup now since 2009. Was getting into handbags something you had wanted to do for a while? What spurred you to launch this product category?
DR: After doing clothing for so long, I was excited to learn a new craft and work with artisans who are really good at making an accessory.
I was looking for these great bags, and it inspired me to start a new category. I wanted to give customers something useful and not just something that they already had. I saw a hole in the market for it, and once I thought about it, the ideas began to quickly flood in. It's been fun to learn this new industry and work with people who know it so well.
FT: I want to talk about social media a little bit, because your Instagram is a huge source of inspiration for people. When it came to the brand, would you say that you were an early adopter of social media?
DR: I definitely adopted it early, but I don't think I really figured out where I fit into it for a while. I dabbled in it and didn't really know what it was good for. Then I realized that it was a great place to put everything that was inspiring to me and to show the world what the brand is about. Before Instagram, I would just have piles of tear-outs from magazines and books everywhere. So it's my mood board.
Everyone does it differently, but I think for Loup it's a great place to understand where the brand is coming from.
FT: How do you think social media has shaped your brand?
DR: I think it has been helpful. It can be hard when you have a great dress and it fits great, but it's hard to show where it came from and why you're putting it out into the world. I think that social media has been helpful in showing where we're coming from in a deeper way. Having that extra layer, showing the mission of the brand and showing that we're doing more than just giving you new clothes every few months, I think that has been really important.
FT: What are your top three favorite Instagram accounts to follow for inspiration?
DR: The truth is that I actually like following a lot of real people doing real things. I love when designers or store owners will post pictures of their daily life. I follow some of the stores we work with, like Myrtle in Los Angeles. They have a great Instagram, it has all of the cool stuff that's happening in L.A. and with their store.
I like to follow other designers, like jewelry designer Sophie Buhai. She also posts a lot of her inspiration and all of the cool new stuff she's doing. Also all of the bloggers we work with are amazing. Natalie Off Duty, I've been following her for a long time, and she just shows what it's like to be a model in New York and all of the work ... that's always really fun to see.
FT: You're based in New York -- where would you say is your go-to spot in the city to unwind?
DR: I'm lucky because my boyfriend owns a really great bar around the corner from my studio, called Bonnie Vee. They have a big garden in the back, so usually during the day I'll go there if I need a moment of silence. I'll sit in the garden and have tea. It's a great place to just unwind.
FT: Do you have a favorite mantra or words to live by?
DR: I've been doing this for a long time, and there are so many ups and downs. I think for me it's always been, "Don't do anything that doesn't feel right to you." Especially in fashion. Things are constantly influencing you, and there's so much competition ... and then there are the things that you think you should be doing. I just try to take a moment and ask myself, "Does this feel good to me? Does this feel right for me?" That definitely mellows me out and helps me to make decisions all day.
To check out more of Danielle Ribner's pieces and the designer's debut collection of handbags, click over to Louponline.com.