7 Minutes with: Dutchy Handbags


Courtesy of Dutchy Handbags

For Dutchy handbag designer Audree Halasz, a trip through a second hand or antique store serves as prime inspiration for her funky yet practical line of bags and clutches. The line, sold at local designer boutique Studio 3579 in the Mission, blends vintage touches (contrast-stitching and rose appliqués) with modern utility (plenty of room for your Ipod, cell and change for Muni). The 36-year-old Hayes Valley resident says she was practically born into the biz: Her parents owned their own boutique in New Jersey for years. On the brink of going green with her business, we caught up with Halasz to chat about her new collection, mischief and playing with fire.

We’re dying to know: What’s behind the name?
Apparently the term “to be in Dutch” used to mean “to be in mischief.” My Dad got that nickname when he was growing up because he was always getting into trouble and was called that all his life. He passed away in 1996 and because he was really into fashion and apparel, I thought it would be cool to use that name. It just had a great ring to it—kind of funky and that’s really what I was creating.

What’s in your handbag?

I have one of my clutches, kind of a large wallet. I have my cell phone, a pack of gum and postcards. I also spin fire, so I always have practice Poi in my bag. It’s the toy that one uses to practice fire spinning, basically balls on a string that you spin around. Pretty simple. I don’t put a lot of things in my bag generally.

Spinning fire? Do tell…

I have done it for a year and a half now. I also spin fire hoops. Fire dancing or Poi is an old Maori dance. Now people who learn—it’s sort of an alternative community. It’s super fun!

Courtesy of Dutchy Handbags

Tell us about going green with your line in September.

I’d been toying with the idea of going back to my roots because when I originally started Dutchy, my plan was to have some sort of sustainability aspect in the manufacturing. Originally I was using recycled draperies from Europe for the lining and after a while, it became difficult in production, but I always wanted to go back to it. It was definitely a scary thing to completely change over the line, but the response has been great. As the collections evolve I’m sure I will be sourcing new materials—vegan or eco-friendly materials that keep price points down, but also stick with the design essence of Dutchy, which is funky, cute and vintage-inspired.

Plan on designing a clothing line someday?
I was never a person who had a bag fetish or anything like that. It really came from my practical side. I wanted to make a bag and that yielded people being interested in what I created. It just fell into place. Now that I’ve been doing them, I think about doing other things, possibly shoes in the future. For now I’m going to stick with handbags. For Spring 2009, I’m introducing laptop bags, camera and jewelry cases—not just fashion-oriented handbags.

From Aug. 7-10, visit Studio 3579 for markdowns on the Dutchy Storm collection. Studio 3579, 499 Dolores St., 415-626-2533
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