Tinsley Mortimer Explains the Japanese Handbag Market

Glossy! Photo: Patrick McMullan

Last night we bumped into Tinsley Mortimer, sipping cocktails at the opening party for the new Vertu cell phone boutique in the recently refurbished Plaza Hotel. So we put our glossiest smiles on, approached, and introduced ourselves. "It's funny, when you speak with New York you never know which way they are going to go," she said, backing away. Well, on our honor, Mrs. Mortimer! "They sorta walk that middle road where you don't know if your interview is going to go good or bad." We assured her we'd be nice, but she didn't seem convinced. "When someone is outright nasty to you that hurts," she explained. "I really try not to have a negative outlook. I mean, I'm not going to say I'm not disappointed when I read something bad about myself."

Realizing her fragile state, we gently eased into the interview with some light fashion chat about Japan, where her Samantha Thavasa handbag line is quite popular. Where did she hang out in Tokyo? "I have to say Harajuku. I go there and I buy my husband clothes," she said. "You know, we have a store there. I'm not really sure on the area. It's near Ralph Lauren. But I never really go out when I'm there because I'm just working, but oh my God — I love Harajuku." Then she really got chatty and before we knew it we were BFFs! "But the annoying thing is designing the same thing for two different markets," she continued. "Like clutches — Japanese girls have no use for clutches because they just go to the clubs right after work. They are so different from New York. Stylewise, colorwise, stylewise. It's very youth-oriented. I'm designing for women between the ages of 20 and 40." Well, girlfriend, we hope to still be clubbin' when we turn 40. "Me too!," she agreed. "But in Japan, after 25, it's like, basically, you're dead." Well at least now we know our new best friend won't be moving there any time soon. — Kevin Wilen