Vera Neumann for Brighton

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.

26 Comments

Filed under Designers, Viewpoint

26 responses to “Vera Neumann for Brighton

  1. Joyce Acosta

    Love! Must add a few of these new pieces to mix in with my vintage Vera. That top tote is TDF. Can’t you see it with a vintage Vera scarf tied around the handle.

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  2. Just what I need – another excuse/reason to purchase handbags, totes, zippered pouches, etc.! However, I totally agree that “good design is good design”.

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  3. This part made me laugh: “I was in a strange environment – a modern shopping mall.” It is a totally jarring experience for people who shop second-hand and vintage, to be surrounded by those glaring fluorescent lights and brand-new stuff – my sister thinks I’m an alien when I don’t know what store she’s talking about, I’m so out of the loop!

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  4. I saw that collection in the Prudential mall in Boston as well…glad I didn’t have time to stop in!
    I don’t have a problem with vintage designs coming back, as it introduces a new generation to classic design. I’m not a big Brighton fan, but I do like those pieces.

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    • It was refreshing having a salesperson discussing vintage design! I’ve never thought much about Brighton, as the metal bits don’t appeal to me. I’d have never gone into the store but for the window.

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  5. Hi all! I enjoyed your “Vera article” and also enjoyed the comments made in today’s blog by your bloggers.

    Your NOT a miss smartie pants (or how ever you desribed yourself). you are a sharer of knowledge. I appreciate how much SMARTER I am since I started reading your blog. Thanks.

    I know exactly what you mean about feeling out of place in these new malls…especially SOUTHPARK in Charlotte, NC. SOOOOOO upscale. Thanks for an interestig blog.

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  6. I’m with you–a good design is a good design, especially when it calls your name in your favorite color scheme. And how good to know that there are still a few knowledgeable sales people in malls!

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  7. Lynn

    Glad to see her designs are being used again. I have a couple of her scarves, a tea towel and a couple of tablecloths, all vintage. She was a great designer and I pick anything of hers up wherever I can find it.

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  8. betty hale

    How coincidental. I was shopping with friends this weekend, and we ended up at a consignment store we like to shop at. I like this shop as they have an eclectic range of clothing and scarves. Long story short, I ended up buying a Paloma Picasso scarf and a Vera Neuman scarf for $1.99 each, minus 20% discount. I had spotted the Picasso scarf but hadn’t realized that I had bought a Vera scarf until I got home and took a good look at it. It appears to be from the early 70s, based on the information that I read on your site, and I’m thrilled to bits about both finds. In fact, I’m wearing the Paloma scarf right now. And I would definitely buy the nautical themed Vera products!

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  9. How fabulous! These bags looks wonderful, and like a much smarter Vera resuscitation than the Target one. The fish print is totally charming.

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  10. Love these bags, and they are perfect to go with your new coverup!

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  11. Morning Waters

    I just “lucked” into a Vera Scarf made for Target at my local thrift store. While I knew it was a recently made object, I still loved the blue, orange and white flowered design. Indeed timeless. And at a generous 43″ square I can use it in many ways, head scarf, over the shoulders scarf, tied at the waist over a bathing suit, etc. And only $2!!!! A great addition to my other vintage Vera scarves!

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  12. Pingback: We Love Vera (Neumann) | The Vintage Traveler

  13. joulesstar

    How on earth did I miss this line? Ack! I’m slipping.
    There’s a Brighton shop fairly close by,non-mall, but now I’ll have to see if I can hunt some of this down, months later. That fish tote is killing me, and I love what you chose. (I once sold a vintage leather belt to one of the founders, which was a thrill.)

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  14. I LOVE YOUR blog Vintage Traveler! You are so BRAVE giving us a glimpse of the interior of your closet!!! Wouldn’t that make a marvelous coffee table book…..the interiors….of women’s closets!!!! VERY interesting!!

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