7 Minutes with reMade USA Handbag Designer Shannon South
We're always thrilled when we hear of new and noteworthy San Francisco designers because, let's face it, we don't live in a city particularly recognized for its sense of style. This is why we were immediately smitten when we came across Shannon South and her inspiring handbag line reMade USA. For those who aren't already familiar, reMade is a Potrero Hill-based company that repurposes used leather jackets to make covetable one-of-a-kind creations (meaning you don't have to sacrifice leather to be eco-friendly), all named after streets in our fair city. With this, we leave you with our second installation of "7 Minutes With":
How did the idea for reMade USA come about?
reMade started with a joke I made to a friend out of frustration. I said, "The only way I'll ever feel proud of my work is if I do something ridiculous like make my bags out of used leather jackets and make them locally." At first the idea sounded absurd to me, but then I decided to give it a whirl. I bought a jacket from Goodwill and made a bag, letting the details of the jacket guide my design. I was amazed at how beautiful it was and everyone loved the concept. The rest is history.
Why did you decide to settle down and start reMade in SF rather than a fashion hub like NYC?
I started reMade in San Francisco because I actually had the time and energy to do it here. NY is busy and exhausting — it really wears on you over time. I wanted to slow down a bit and SF is a place with innovative thinkers where you can also enjoy the beauty of nature. Also, everywhere you go, you are reminded of sustainability, organic foods and clothes are readily available and slow living is omnipresent.
Do you still let the jacket lead the way for the bag design or do you go into a store knowing what you have in mind to make & shop accordingly?
Well, I just started reMade at the beginning of the year and I've already made changes in my approach. In the beginning, I was on a mad search for jackets with really interesting details and pockets, letting them guide the design of the bag. Unfortunately, this approach isn't always the easiest. Now I just look for big jackets and coats — I want the material. Everything was big and puffy in the 80s — there's a lot of leather there.
Where do you look for design inspiration?
I find that when I look or try too hard, I'm not inspired. It has to just come to me — when I'm relaxed, maybe exercising or half awake/half asleep. I'm not really inspired directly by visual things, its more about ideas and what is going on around me. Travel inspires — it opens your eyes to new things and new ways of solving problems or using resources.
What are your favorite shops in SF to thrift for vintage leather jackets?
Top secret. I have enough trouble finding them as it is!
How do you choose what street/neighborhood to name your bag style after?
Honestly, its not very strategic. Since SF was a huge inspiration for the brand, I try to use names that are clearly recognizable to anyone who's spent time here.
Do you plan on expanding your bag styles for other cities?
No. I think there are enough streets in SF to keep me going for a while...
Any plans to make bags from other repurposed materials in the future?
Not at the moment, though it has been suggested that I use canvas for men's bags.