DESIGNER PROFILE: ERIN TEMPLETON
Erin Templeton was born and raised in the mountains outside of Vancouver, Canada. She began making leather accessories in 1999, while studying shoemaking at Cordwainer's College in London, England. She continued to study leatherwork in Australia, and once home in Vancouver, began concentrating on handbags. By 2007, her studio graduated from renting the boiler room of a local tailor shop to the actual tailor shop, where she opened her studio/storefront to the public in Vancouver's historic Chinatown.
A vintage buyer by trade, Erin always found the masses of unloved leather inspiring, as each piece is a reminder of who it once was. All designs are lovingly handmade in-house in recycled leather, imported cowhides, or a selection of exclusive and locally tanned elks and bison. Truly the biggest part of the story is recognizing and uniting the elements.
How would you describe Erin Templeton designs and what is your overall mission?
Simple design, strong construction, and in house production. My overall mission is to defy trends, and ensure the bags we make are as durable and long lasting as the leather used to make them! But mostly I think I just like being able to be my own boss and keep the vintage aspect of the retail shop going, which is inspiring. All the while making bags out of recycled leather as much as possible! Really my mission is to keep my hands busy, keeps me out of trouble!
Which materials do you work with and why?
I use recycled leather whenever possible, out of vintage pants and skirts I find while sourcing vintage for my shop! Most of my wholesale are items made from imported Italian leathers, though I sneakily use recycled leather for the inside pockets. My Time For A Change wallets and Kiss And Makeup pouches are often made from a mix of recycled and new leathers. As most of the cuts from upholstery leathers are earth tones, I buy the brighter colours new. We use every little piece, even making our own labels out of scrap! I use recycled as much as possible, because it is good to use it up! And it’s a nice little bonus to keep it out of the landfills.
"I have always tried to make my designs timeless and well made so that if you save up and love it a lot, it will love you back by wearing well over a long period of time!"
What does slow fashion mean to you and how do you engage in it?
I have always tried to make my designs timeless and well made so that if you save up and love it a lot, it will love you back by wearing well over a long period of time! It’s funny to me, when I meet a bag from 10 years ago made from an old skirt that might need a new strap or replacement lining. That always cracks me up, being used every day for 10 years and still going strong! I can’t imagine that if I didn’t do this for a living that I would be buying a new bag every couple of years, I would want the one I have to work for me, in every way for as long as possible, and I think that's what I do. Also I have been picking vintage since I was 20, so I think I am predisposed to liking things that meld with several time periods, as I tend to wear a lot of different eras at once.
You went to England and Australia to study shoe making and leatherwork. Can you tell us more about that experience and how it impacted you as the designer you are today?
It was a very long time ago, but I think it’s good to travel and to see that other people are able to make a living being creative. Though, at that time, there was no internet, and the world was a very different place. Finding those connections and sourcing items was all done in person, so its kind of hard to explain to people nowadays! Omg! Honestly, I went to school for shoemaking and that's pretty complicated, so making bags seemed like a nice simple one-size-fits-all step frankly!