LAYERxlayer is a hard brand to pin down. Even with the seemingly endless number of style niches and sub-genres out there, there’s still no one in which the label is a perfect fit. Everything is made in the USA, and almost entirely from American components, but there’s nothing remotely Americana or capital H Heritage about any of it. The pieces tend to be heavily designed, sometimes to the point of bordering on architectural, and yet they’re still tough and functional, and not at all designer-y. Even beyond their appearance, there’s something else about their bags – something more intangible, a little tougher to identify – that just feels different.
“We’re not a bag brand,” co-founder Patrick Turiello says flatly. “The bags have been the thing that have taken off. And they’re earning us an income. And we like making them. But, that’s not all we are.”
The LAYERxlayer studio occupies a bright and airy room in Turiello and co-founder / girlfriend Leah Fabish’s Harrison, New York apartment. Along with their bags, the space also houses examples of the many other things the two are capable of. Handcrafted furniture, small sculptures, original photography. There’s so much, that you could literally spend hours going through it all. Everywhere you turn, another item to behold; creativity in every corner. Looking around the room, I ask him what they do want to be known for. He smiles, “that’s the question. We’re still figuring it out.”
When I first contacted Turiello about doing the studio visit, he insisted that I stay for lunch. “In case you didn’t know we are both vegan so you’ll be in for a treat,” his email read. “As good as Leah is at design, she is 10x better at cooking.” Eventually, we decided that I would bring my sister and girlfriend along too. “The more the merrier!” The day of the visit, Turiello and Fabish met us at the Harrison train station. A short stroll through town later, we arrived at the modest two story house they call home. They were happy to have us. We were happy to be there.
I study the inspiration board hanging on the wall. Turiello and I are alone in the studio. Everyone else is in the kitchen preparing food. Almost everything on the board is original, made by Fabish and Turiello. “It looks like you’ve got plenty of options,” I say. “Lots you can be known for.” He nods, surveying the studio. He expresses worry about the bags eating up too much of their time. I can tell he wants to switch the brand’s focus sooner than later. Then, after a pause, he asks “want to see what we’re working on for fall?” and pulls out several samples. They’re all great, and I tell him so. He thanks me, clearly proud of them, even if they are bags.
Lunch is announced from the kitchen.
The food is delicious, and quickly devoured. Spirits are high. And sitting there, at the table, I think about the day so far. My visit could have just been about doing the profile, but Fabish and Turiello made it more. They encouraged me to bring my family. They took us on a walk. They shared a meal. They made it personal. And it’s then that I begin to understand Turiello’s dilemma. He’s right, LAYERxlayer isn’t a bag brand. It’s two artists that express themselves through a number of mediums, one of which is bags. That’s the intangible, the tough to identify thing that makes their stuff different: it’s personal. It’s their art. It’s not that they spite the notoriety their bags have received, they just know they have more to offer. Looking around the room, I think to myself, they’re right.
For price and purchase info, visit LAYERxlayer.