Wednesday, March 7, 2012

SewBiz USA: Tucker & Bloom

Form and function. Can the two coexist, or does design overwhelm the underlying importance of construction? According to the father/son entrepreneurs who comprise Nashville sewing business Tucker & Bloom, form is inseparable from function. With over thirty years in the bag industry, head designer David Bloom has created a unique brand of designer bags that honor aesthetic design without compromising the importance of construction.

The man behind the bags is just as unique: David Bloom's start in the "rag business" was more of a chance encounter. Bloom was studying jazz guitar at Berklee School of Music in Boston when he first began collaborating with a friend on handbag construction. Bloom stayed with it, sharpening his skills through experience, and eventually gave up a potential career in music for one in the art of sewn product design and manufacturing. What resulted from Bloom's self-taught background is modern American design utilizing classic European techniques.

After working in major design powerhouses like Hartman Luggage, Bloom eventually relocated to Nashville and founded Tucker & Bloom with his son Case. Aside from the logistics of relocating, starting an independent business presented its own set of challenges. And what exactly is the biggest challenge for Tucker & Bloom? "Branding,” Bloom readily answers – along with producing local product at an affordable price. Nowadays many materials are outsourced at lower prices from international vendors, which makes the American textile business a difficult (and expensive) venture.

Despite the challenges of growing an independent business, Tucker & Bloom still honors the importance of domestic manufacturing without compromising design. In fact, Tucker & Bloom boasts some of the most specialized products in the business. Producing custom bags specifically designed for clientele needs isn’t something you’d see from Macy’s.

Ever heard of a bag specifically designed for DJ equipment? Tucker & Bloom has one! The influence of Nashville’s status as Music City USA can be seen in a recent Tucker & Bloom creation, a custom bag for a prominent DJ to store sound equipment. There is also a bag designed specifically for photographers to store camera lenses, cords, and other equipment efficiently (and safely)... along with their signature line of messenger bags and other accessories.

But what’s most interesting about this business, and particularly important, is the fact that these well made bags and cases do not carry with them the attitude and pomp you find in other embellished products. They are humbly stylish with beautifully monogrammed buckles and tabs against the well-wrought textile. Tucker & Bloom describes this subtlety best on its website as a look that “looks like business” but is tailored for those who “want to describe that look for themselves.” Which emphasizes an important point for Tucker and Bloom customers: these bags truly enhance your personal style; they don’t define it.

Anyone who lives in Nashville is well aware that it is an alternative town. And to have the alternative bag to match? Now that’s the selling - and branding - angle for Tucker & Bloom.

Contributing writer for this Sew-Biz USA feature is Grace Kay. You can read Grace’s musings on music by visiting her blog, Project Goshen.

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