Saturday I was in a strange environment – a modern shopping mall. It’s not that I never go to the mall, I do, but it’s usually when I need something specific that I know can be found there. In this instance, I was in need of a skinny latte from Starbucks, and the only one to be found for miles was in this mall.
So I was making my way to Starbucks when I stopped dead in my tracks. There, on a shop window, was a ladybug and the Vera signature. I was intrigued to see that the store was Brighton. I had to go in and check it out.
Brighton is primarily a maker of leather goods, and they also make other accessories like jewelry and sunglasses. The business dates back to the late 1960s when Jerry and Terri Kohl bought a business that made men’s belts. In 1985 they formed Brighton as part of the company, and in 1990 started making items for women.
As I was looking at the Vera items, the sales associate came over and asked if I knew about Vera Neumann. I resisted the urge to be Ms. Know-it-all-smarty-pants and said that I remembered her from the 1970s. That gave her the chance to practice what she’d learned about Vera. I was impressed. Tonya knew all about Vera, and how important she was as an artist and as a producer of scarves and household textiles.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I fell victim to the sales pitch. Actually, I was already in love with the nautical themed line before the pitch even started. I was a goner at “red, white, and blue fish print.”
Like the original, vintage Vera products, all the Brighton accessories are based on a Vera scarf. I was given their spring brochure that showed the original scarf along with the products that are based on it. And all through the brochure are photos and information about Vera herself.
I didn’t get a photo, but there is a tote bag based on this scarf, which is in my own collection. You can see it on the Brighton website, which is well worth a look because they have a great little video about Vera, that includes some terrific archival footage of her.
Not all the Vera items are nautical, as you can tell from the photo of the Brighton window. There are, of course, butterflies and ladybugs as well. One of the best adaptations was the black and white butterfly pouch bag that you can see in the window. The motif was actually embroidered onto the canvas.
Here’s the set that I bought. I’d been looking for some good zippered bags to organize my larger travel handbag, and these were perfect.
They are even lined in a Vera design.
I liked everything about this collaboration except for one thing – the items are made in China. I decided to overlook this because Brighton continues to manufacture their leather goods in the USA. Hopefully they will bring back more of their production to the States in the future.
I know that there are many vintage fans who do not like modern use of vintage designs. I’m of the opinion that good design is good design, period. There is some concern that these modern uses tend to muddy the waters and that in years down the road the newer designs will be confused with the originals. It may be true, but that is a small price to pay for having access to great design.