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INTERVIEW: Canvas & Hyde Founder Lisa Pongrass On The Luxury Handcrafted Handbag Brand

Nicole Barylski

Canvas & Hyde CEO & Founder Lisa Pongrass. (Courtesy Photo)

Canvas & Hyde - a luxury handbag line hand-constructed by expert artisans in Brooklyn, New York and Florence, Italy - has arrived in the Hamptons, again.

The chic collections are designed with a timeless elegance that will never go out of style in mind and crafted with gorgeous hides and leathers sourced solely from sustainable factories around the world.

We spoke with CEO & Founder Lisa Pongrass about redefining the "it-bag" mentality, the latest Canvas & Hyde finds and more.

What fabulous Canvas & Hyde items are available at Michelle Farmer Collaborate in Southampton?

LP: Michelle Farmer have been supporting us and carrying Canvas & Hyde since the summer of 2017 when they were located in Bridgehampton. They have since moved to a fabulous location on Jobs Lane in Southampton. As we produce mainly leather bags in our factory in Brooklyn and Florence we are much stronger in the Fall however, the store is currently carrying our Mini Crossbodies with Linen, our Florentine clutches in neutral tones and the St. Tropez pouchette which is compact, trans seasonal and great for traveling (whenever we can do that again!). Our first and best selling bag was the Weekender that Michelle Farmer carries usually towards the end of August....it is the perfect size to take on a plane and put into the overhead compartment and if I had a dollar for every time I've been stopped at the airport by people wanting to know who makes it...well...I could buy a house in the Hamptons!

Canvas & Hyde is the anti "it-bag," instead focusing on timeless elegance. When designing a collection, where does the Canvas & Hyde team draw inspiration?

LP: When designing our bags there are a few questions we always ask ourselves. Is it timeless? Is it elegant? Is it functional? Is it versatile? Many of our bags are day to night and have a myriad of functions. Every single detail is extremely thought out from the amount and depth of internal pockets in our Florentine Clutch to the number of feet on the base of the Sydney Tote. Before starting Canvas & Hyde I fell into the trap of having to have the latest bag from the best designers and what I found over time is that they became too identifiable and the next season they sat in my wardrobe. We have tried to design bags that are under the radar but still quality components with timeless design. I will often avoid the fashion "trends" that are fleeting, preferring to choose colors and materials that will be as current in five years as they are now.

The Florentine Folding Clutch. (Courtesy Photo)

What are some of your favorite outfits/trends to pair Canvas & Hyde with?

LP: Our bags really work with any style a woman chooses to adopt - whether it be relaxed and deconstructed or corporate and suited. In the Michelle Farmer collection, my favorite look is a pair of silk pants (which they do in a variety of colors), a silk tank top and a cashmere boyfriend sweater with one of our Mini Crossbodies or the smaller St. Tropez clutch worn as a Crossbody. For evening our Florenting folding clutch is the perfect accessory for any style of attire formal or casual...plus it holds much more that you would think. My favorite (and the one I wear out most evenings) is the Black with Black Sting Ray detail as it works with everything.

What's up next for Canvas & Hyde?

LP: Wow...if you had asked that question six months ago my response would have been totally different, but Covid-19 has certainly taken it's toll on so many of my retailers across the country. We had been working on a few different designs, but had to shelve them to wait out the lockdown. Michelle Farmer is having an amazing start to the season which I'm thrilled about because so many people flocked to the Hamptons and are excited about venturing out to actually go shopping, plus she has a very unique edit of fabulous, colorful clothing and accessories. I am hoping that consumers care about where the products they purchase are made and that my mantra of 'buying well' will be mainstream which sits with the mission of the Michelle Farmer boutique. It is my ultimate hope that "fast fashion" may become a thing of the past as we strive to better the amount of waste ending up as landfill on our planet. Sadly, many of our retailers have shuttered their doors permanently and larger stores like Neiman Marcus are in Chapter 11 so we must pivot to reach our customers a different way. Luckily, we have a growing following of customers who keep coming back, which tells me we are on the right track and the challenge will be to just hold on until things pick up again.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

LP: I think that this pandemic has certainly shined a light on so many different aspects of our lives, from small acts of kindness to our fellow man to resisting the temptation to buy everything online and just supporting small businesses. For me, the local stores - whether they be in the Hamptons or in New York City - are where I want to lend my support, especially black and minority owned businesses like Vera Moore cosmetics who I discovered two years ago. There are so many quaint, gorgeous small businesses from Southampton to Sag Harbor all the way to Montauk who need our business this summer, so in a way I feel like going shopping is giving back! One of my favorites is Ryland in Sag Harbor, which opened about a year ago and focuses on cool menswear.

Michelle Farmer Collaborate is located at 10 A Jobs Lane in Southampton. For more information, visit www.canvasandhyde.com.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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