Kristina Thaden talks about her rare handbags
If you manage to find a factory in Italy to manufacture your leather goods, that’s a feat in itself, especially a factory that isn’t taken over by the big fashion conglomerates. And finding a factory that matches your philosophy and vision is a bigger feat, although difficult, it is doable. However, finding one ready to craft the rarest bags is nearly downright impossible. But, Kristina Thaden rose to the challenge with her brand of luxury bags Thadenwhich is shown during New York Fashion Week which started today and ends on September 14th.
Conceived late last year, Thaden took the handbag world by storm, turning heads with her pleated yet sculpted bag, and other bags. Swiss of ethnic origin, if one product, Thaden, can be said to be produced in neighboring Italy. Just about everything that comes out of Switzerland is made with the highest of excellence, and Thaden is no different. It is made with Italian precision, but with the tradition of Swiss luxury.
The big one and The whole medium are the two bags that have baffled seasoned Italian makers. “The complexity of the designer’s vision requires the execution of precise curves and geometric folds in the finest leather, and it seemed technically unattainable,” the house notes. But then came Luigi, a craftsman eager to scale up and manufacture Kristina’s vision to the world.
“Luigi, who is now 89, is one of the greatest masters of his craft. He was the first and only one who had the confidence to develop it. We talked a lot, because it’s always very strong when we don’t agree. But the wonderful cliché is that we love each other very much and that at lunch we always eat together at the big table”, says Kristina.
She is involved in every step of the production process, wanting to know everything about the implementation along the way. “In the conversations about making the Whole Bag, I gained a good technical understanding,” she says.
“The Whole handbag is inspired by my obsession with all kinds of shapes and the Japanese philosophy of ‘Ma’ – the space between things. Excitement is what happens there, where nothing happens. So much can come out of it. Even as a director, I found it so exciting to explore what happens next to the representation, in the empty space. If you pay attention to the space between things, to what is missing, to what is not said, to what is formless, you experience the unexpected, and this is as important as the work of art itself. From this void is born dynamism, a space fills up,” she muses. “I want to capture that dynamic, as if I’m freezing an interaction and capturing it in a wearable sculpture. The Whole offers so much – filling the space between things, with yourself , with your own character, your own personality, with an incredible aura.
Constantly looking for inspiration, Kristina emphasizes that what she sees in one thing, someone else will see something different and create something different – and that’s what happened with the creation of the Whole handbags. “I believe in keeping children’s curiosity alive in this regard. For example, a photo of a freeway interchange in Los Angeles recently inspired me to make a blouse. It could also have become a sculpture. Authentic inspiration expands, it is fluid.
How Thaden was born
Creativity has always been in Kristina’s soul. Having acted, sung and led her own theater troupe, she has always felt the need to express herself. My life journey combines art and business in a beautiful and effective way. Already at the age of 6 it was clear to me that I needed to express my creativity and that I belonged on stage. I started writing plays in elementary school, and growing up I played lead roles, wrote poems, and performed ballet. When I was 14, I got the lead role in a radio sitcom in Germany. Later, I completed a musical training, studying theater, directing and oral expression, to then found and lead with great joy my own theater ensemble.
And then, before starting Thaden, Kristina was the general manager of a Swiss construction company. But she had already demonstrated skills in the business world before that: “To finance my temporarily unprofitable passion, I took a job in a market research company, I became a team leader and I also offered training to business leaders who wanted to improve and optimize their performance. . This eventually led me down the business path. I trained in project management and deepened my studies in organizational development, coaching and HR.
“During my corporate career, I have trained and coached C-level female executives for many years and have always encouraged their leadership in my teams – female empowerment has always been close to my heart. heart and Thaden is a tribute to the wonderful woman. In my last position, I was appointed deputy general manager in a medium-sized construction company in Switzerland. During this time, I also worked continuously on my ideas for design and gave space to other projects like writing a novel, classical singing, photography. I found myself yearning for more creativity, more expression in my life, and I knew at that time that I had strong management skills and that I had learned a lot over the past few years, so the time had come and the idea of combining creativity and management took hold more and more. clearly. The pandemic gave me the impetus to launch the pr Thaden object. And so, I started this wonderful journey.
Not stalling to begin with, Kristina found the decision to pitch exhilarating. “I’m basically a pretty anxious person, I don’t like riding roller coasters, I don’t like skydiving, a lot of things scare me. But when it comes to my ideas, which I have carefully considered and calculated, I don’t hesitate for long. Also, my creative personality helps me. I’m good at finding solutions. But it can be an advantage (at least for the mental attitude) that we cannot predict the challenges, call it useful founder naivety. Otherwise, we would never start at all because so many things are going differently than expected.
Not every day is the same, but her days oscillate between creative days and business days, which she calls “an entrepreneur’s rodeo.” “I have a schedule for each activity. First I check my email, all social media channels, read the news, then I look at my long to-do list that I prioritized the day before, many phone calls, many trips to Italy for production. Due to my background in the arts and the less managed approach there, I created a solid structure in my later professional life that can withstand great stress. And when it gets too hard and I don’t know what to do, I get up and dance across the room or go for a walk. I have to consciously take time off because as an entrepreneur you have to be prepared to run a marathon, not a sprint.
Her creative days led her to disconnect from the online connection and connect to creation where Kristina draws, walks, gazes into what she calls ‘nothingness’, letting ideas flow while building them their own “palace”. But the truth is that Kristina wears many hats at the same time, as so many small businesses do. “Everything is demanded of me at the same time,” she says. But finding the commercial and creative balance is above all knowing how to manage, and for her, it’s both positive and a challenge for her.
One challenge she has found as a founder in relation to management is staying clear about her goals. “For example, with the providers I have chosen for my label, it is crucial to make the right financial decisions. Women often have inhibitions to stand up for what they want. I’m not afraid to say that as the founder of my own brand, I made mistakes and lost money because I chose to ignore those signals that intuitively indicated that something was wrong. was not going. Running your own business is something different than being a manager in a corporate setting. It’s just me and my first-hand decisions, and from that perspective, it takes a lot of growth in a short time.
If you look at Thaden’s bags, they have a unique shape and appeal to women. They are also intricate, intricately shaped bags that, as Kristina notes, “they connect with every woman’s inner heroine.” There is something in silhouettes that makes a woman feel, I know you and understand you, I have to carry you. “He speaks to the hearts of women and celebrates them – in all their personality, in all that they are,” Kristina continues. “A Thaden wants to take you where you are and not make you something you’re not. If you ever feel invincible, great, grab your Thaden bag and set off some fireworks. If you feel insecure, let your Thaden show what a great personality you are.
Another Thaden bag is The Little Rocket, which can also be made in Ostrich or Calfskin, with Lamb Nappa for the interior. With the circular shape of the bag, the bottom attracts attention with its round arch. The handle is very circular, which gives it an elegant and luxurious look.
“5 years ago I was traveling with my husband and one evening we were sitting in a bar on a hill in Palm Springs. The half moon shone big and bright. It was then that the idea of the shape of a reclining moon first came to me and also the idea of creating very specific bags, which I told my husband about. Luckily, my husband is very supportive of me and my ideas, and he encouraged the ideas. The bag mainly comes from my obsession with perfect shapes. I always ask myself, ‘what does a shape want to be?’ I just have to listen, look, feel, then it almost takes shape on its own. For me, the Little Rocket is synonymous with femininity, feminine lines, softness. It is the small energy rocket and a decorative adornment on the wrist. My bags always have many points of reference, many levels of meaning and a Thaden should always be a wonderful support for the personality of the wearer.
Kristina’s goal for the brand is simple. Make Thaden accessible to more people. As the brand begins to take off and really grab people’s attention, its goal is to grow it into a lifestyle brand that moves away from fast fashion towards timeless investment pieces that uplift the environment. . “It must embody uncompromising quality, craftsmanship, artistic touch and style in all areas. I want Thaden to contribute, away from fast consumption, according to the motto: buy quality, buy little and pass it on to your children. With Thaden, whether it’s a handbag, clothes, interior, you should be able to wrap yourself up, feel safe and strong and above all be seen and respected in your personality,” she says.
On the go during this ready-to-wear fashion week season, Kristina can be seen at the Juju showroom during New York Fashion Week, where those interested can view Whole’s signature handbags. She will also be at Paris Fashion Week, exhibiting in a gallery in the Marais district in the 4th arrondissement.