Making of The Sartorialist for Kiehl's Dopp Kit

Kiehl's and I had been wanting to work together for a while, but could not figure out the right format; then, they commissioned me to create a dopp kit for their upcoming Father's Day promotions and it fell right into place.

I loved the challenge of designing a product from scratch and they were keen to let me have it produced in Italy by my good friend, Luca Roda. The deal was cemented when Kiehl's agreed to promote the project with a shoot celebrating the special relationship a Dad has with his kids (you'll see some of those images in a post tomorrow).

During the project I took a few photos at critical moments in the design process. The photo above is literally the moment I got the inspiration for how I wanted the dopp kit to look. (It pays to always have a camera with you!)

Garance and I were sitting at our favorite crêpe place in Paris, and while we were talking I kept thinking how much I liked the colors of her two knits. (I'm such a sucker for grey and navy.) I loved the idea of a dark, masculine navy exterior for the kit; navy has always been my power color. But by making the interior a light shade of grey it would be so much easier to actually find things inside the kit.

While we were in Milan, Garance and I sat in bed and laid out the interior of the kit. I knew I wanted a lot of pockets to securely hold not only Kiehl's products but also the other items I always throw in my kit, like my toothbrush, cufflinks, tweezers, asprin, etc.

One of the first things I sketched was a zipper going across the top of the dopp kit. "Why across the top?" she asked. "That's where zippers on dopp kits go.....duh!" I responded (like a third grader). Garance patiently explained that by placing the zipper around the lid of the kit it would allow us to use the top interior of the kit for additional storage. I know she's right but I hate when her stupid good sense makes better sense than my smart bad sense....does that make sense?

The proto phase was trick trying to triangulate between Kiehl's in New York, Luca Roda in Italy and me - usually on the road.

Above is one of the first protos. Besides the obvious design changes like moving the strap and the logo the biggest design challenge was placement of the zipper. In the first proto the interior seam around the lid seemed too bulky; the fashion fabric, the interior fabric and the zipper tape were all combined in the binding around the lid and the result was less than elegant. It seems like an easy problem to solve but when you are constantly on the road and outside shooting, it is difficult to take time to sit quietly and think out a design challenge.

Then, the answer came to me while I was jogging. If I moved the zipper down a half inch or so it would remove the zipper tape from the binding...voila!! Problem solved! I love a good design challenge but like most things you can't rush the answer. It comes when it comes and that could be when you're cooking or running or staring out the window of a plane.

Overall, I loved the process of creating this kit and working with Sara from Kiehls and Luca Roda. It seemed like a year-long process of challenge and reward that, in the end, was almost as much fun as having the finished product.

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