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A One Of A Kind Design Experience With Rough & Tumble

Rough & Tumble was founded in 2008 by artist and entrepreneur, Natasha Durham, with the idea of creating handbags “that deliver a purposeful mix of visual balance, and high function to achieve trend-free, heirloom-quality designs”. Durham designs each style with assistance from the production director, Louise Gartland, and their team of Makers. Rough & Tumble commits themselves to producing one of a kind bags, one at a time, in Maine, sourcing and training the entire production team and pulling from local talent.

For a truly unique and fun collaboration, Here & There Magazine connected with Rough & Tumble to create the perfect travel companion. There was excitement in the air during the call with designer Louise Gartland and a sense of familiarity as introductions took place. Louise was very helpful and informative during the design process, explaining each piece and guiding through their website for visuals. Prior to starting the design process, Louise asked about personal style both in fashion and life, so that she could help customize the ‘perfect’ bag which resulted in the ultimate design – a toss between 70s retro and 90s rock glam, and of course, both travel appropriate and camera friendly.


Along with the personal experience of designing our very own bag, Here & There went a bit further with an exclusive interview:

Rough & Tumble Custom
The Borough Bag - Rough & Tumble

Do most of your clients contact you to design specific bags or do people generally select styles designed in your shop or online?


We have an online customizer where a selection of our best selling designs can be virtually designed. However, all styles can be designed with a design specialist by phoning in, which most of our clients do. We only customize our Rough & Tumble bags, designed by creative director Natasha Durham. 


How does this process work - walk us through the design steps as well as what happens once the bag is sent to production.


The ‘be the designer’ process can be done online with select styles, or in person with a design specialist on the phone. Many clients start by finding inspiration from the online lookbook - this is a collection catalog of custom designed styles that pass through the design studio everyday. As every custom bag is not photographed, we do our best to shoot as many as possible to showcase leathers, custom combinations, strap styles and give designer insights and guidance.


Then, clients have the option, if they prefer, to order swatches of leathers, zippers and straps to see in person before designing, however this is definitely not a must. A design specialist is always available to assist clients whether they would like to customize a bag online or over the phone. When calling in, the specialist walks the client through their bag style by suggesting leather pairings, talking about the ideal materials to work with and the components of the bag itself. From there a rendering/drawing of the bag with all the details written in, is sent to the client to confirm. Then it moves straight into production where it moves through its individual production process taking about 8 weeks. This studio manufacturing process starts with the leathers, and interior fabric being cut by hand, then all details such as zippers, straps, and hardware being picked and cut by hand to go with the design. It moves into the Makers hands, where that one Maker starts and completes the full bag. Then the final steps are when it receives its finishing details, such as the straps being secured, the interior key fob made, and any other detail that completes the bag. The bag moves straight to be prepped for the lookbook to be photographed and/or shipped to the client with the R&T design story, leather care details and contact information about the amazing community of collectors! 


Do you feel like your location (Maine) is reflective in R&T’s design aesthetic?


I would say in some ways, especially with the designs that really emphasize a feeling of rugged & understated luxury. 


Have there been custom designs you like so much, you add those to your store?


We do not add individual’s custom designs to our online store, however it is always bound to happen that similar styles may appear on our limited page, when a design works it catches everyone’s eye and tends to be designed multiple times. 


Rough & Tumble has a ‘limited’ page on our website where clients can find limited offerings that the creative director custom designs in our unique fabrics and speciality leathers. This is the place to look for our ‘vault’ one-of-a-kind leathers too. We release new leathers and linings weekly, always staying fresh with newness and colourways.

Rough & Tumble Mink Gold
Mink Gold Borough Design

Aleyah Solomon - Founder & Creative Director of H&T Mag: After chatting (with Louise) for a bit, the style we went with was the Borough, one of their newest designs you can customize that includes many pockets that are perfect for travel, more specifically, offer more security when travelling. The next step was looking through the fabrics. With a variety of leathers, many of which are exclusive to Rough & Tumble sourced in various places around Italy, France and USA, there is also a waxed canvas for vegan options. I immediately fell in love with the stunning mink gold; rock and roll meets vintage love. This was the leather I selected, though, with Louise’s suggestion, we would create a few versions to see which one would best work for me. My second choice was the pewter! From there, we walked through choosing the strap, zipper and hardware before we got to the interior swatches and baselining. This was probably the hardest part for me because they offer so many amazing prints to choose from! Once we settled on a few, Louise hung up with me to get some visuals together to send me via email. Once I went through those, I called her back and told her my final selection. All was finalized and then, I just needed to wait for the production to start and my bag to arrive!


Rough & Tumble is sold all over the US in small boutiques, we also sell online and through catalog with Garnet Hill. They ship internationally every day to clients all over the world too! | @roughandtumblebags

By Aleyah Solomon

Modelled by Sadie St Clair

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