Each season sees the Reiss accessories collection focus on specific design stories and for SS16, it’s the Soft Wrapping series that steals the focus. We caught up with Womenswear Accessories Design Manager, Jemma Ruddock, on the inspiration behind the designs and how the initial idea transformed into a reality. Shop new season bags here.


As with many of our designs, the Soft Wrapping story was initially inspired by vintage styles. We usually start this way and then put our own unique spin on the look to keep things modern.’

Inspired by everything from magazines and books to film and exhibitions, the design team starts the process with direction from Reiss Creative Director, James Spreckley, and follows the conversation with in-depth research. Moodboards are collated and a colour board is put together to work from throughout the process. For the Soft Wrapping series, the team looked to Japanese designs for inspiration, focusing on traditional tying and folding techniques. One of the definitive figures of contemporary fashion today, Yohji Yammaoto’s work is exemplary of this aesthetic. Expert cutting, pleating and tailoring techniques create a layered aesthetic within his work – a notion that could then be adapted for the Reiss consumer.


To launch the design process each season, the team attends leather trade shows in Europe. Linea Pelle in Milan showcases the tanneries’ new collections and leather developments for the season and Le Cuir in Paris is the leather partner to world-famous Premiere Vision. From here, the team draws inspiration from the season’s predicted leather trends and consider fabrications. The Soft Wrapping suede was chosen for its soft and light sensibility. This renders it comfortable to wear and easy to shape and manipulate into the twist that identifies the look.

Suede is a key fabrication in the womenswear collection so it made sense to translate this into our designs to link everything together.’

Practicalities also have to be taken into account when choosing leathers and suedes. The weight is always important and the right leather can be dependent on the bag style, size and design as these aspects may affect the final look. Finishes and dying processes are also key to consider as well as the durability of the leather.

Specifics also need to be decided upon, so hardware and leather colours are considered to fit the theme and suit the overall Reiss aesthetic. Signature hardware is developed as well as new additions and fabric techniques are experimented with until the separate elements of the story have been decided. For both the Cassius and the Lark totes, for example, unique disc-ended metal bars were included to bring an element of shine to the look.

Precise measurements are recorded and specifics such as internal details, fastenings and additional design features are finalised.

Next, the concept is taken to the Reiss studio, where leathers are manipulated and placed onto a model foot called a shoe last. It’s normal at this stage for various versions of the design to be created, and by following the contours of the last, it allows the initial idea to be brought to life.

Shop the Daphne shoes, the Beau clutch, the Cassius tote


Once the final designs for the footwear have been decided upon, structural work can begin. For the Soft Wrapping series, a technical construction was adopted, which consists of the suede doubling up as a lining. This results in an easy, soft aesthetic that works perfectly with the soft silhouette and adds a luxe final touch.

‘We used this technique throughout the designs to link the shoe and bag styles together and create a coherent collection.’

The overall process usually takes about four months from start to finish so currently the design team is finalising end of season designs for AW16 and is soon to be starting the research for as far ahead as SS17.

Shop the Cassius tote, the Lola purse, the Joyce bag


It's easy to envisage the Soft Wrapping accessories within any spring rotation thanks to their soft neutral hues and easy sensibility. Style them from day to night, choosing something as simple as a feminine tea dress and a fedora for day and anything from leather leggings to a cocktail dress for evening.