By Diane Y. Welch
ContributorA purse party at the ocean-front home of Del Mar’s Jenny Craig on Oct. 2 brought together friends, family and neighbors. The purses were part of a premier collection designed by Craig’s granddaughter, Sydney Weinger, who debuted her line of leather handbags manufactured under her Morton & Hudson label. The collection sold out.
Weinger, 24, a former Rancho Santa Fe resident, moved to New York two years ago – after she graduated from Pepperdine University with a degree in advertising – to study fashion design at Parsons New School of Design, she said. She graduated with an associate’s degree in fashion design, but unlike her student peers, who struggled to get employment in a depressed market, Weinger took a page out of her family’s book and took on the role of entrepreneur. Her father, Duayne Weinger, owns the San Diego county franchise Hollywood Tans, and her grandmother, Jenny Craig, is famed for her weight loss centers.
At Parsons, Weinger took an accessory class. “That’s when I got really excited about designing handbags. The first one I designed was really well received by my peers. That gave me the push to start my business and to create a line,” she said. And thus Morton & Hudson was born, taking its name from the cross streets where Weinger lives in New York’s Greenwich Village.
The purses are unique with a dual use and a timeless appeal. They may be used for day or night, and for any season, no matter what the weather is, said Weinger. “They are simply designed for women on-the-go. They are lightweight and easy to pack and I didn’t use any hardware or branding, I wanted the leather to speak for itself.” A bi-coastal product – the line sells in San Diego and New York – it was important that the designs fit both climates.
To accomplish this, Weinger utilizes the highest quality Italian leather in natural tones, such as moss green, ash grey, tan and merlot. Inspired by the energy in New York, she has the purses crafted in Los Angeles. “I really wanted to keep the manufacturing onshore, as I also want to promote jobs in the U.S.,” she explained.
Fashion, especially for women, is cyclical, said Weinger who looked at Yves St. Lauren’s men’s tailoring for a timeless look. This inspired her purse designs which incorporate geometric lines that are clean and minimal, transcending design trends. Even her brand logo is modest with a simple capital “M” embossed into the leather. “The look is more toward the classics, but updated for today’s woman,” she said.
Each bag is oversized — to fit today’s need to carry larger items like a camera or cell phone – and is named for a place that Weinger has visited. Currently there are three different styles offered in a variety of colors: The Village, a clutch named for Greenwich Village; The Marais, a shoulder bag named for an area of Paris; and The Kensington, an oversized envelope clutch, named for a district of London.
Weinger expects to move back to Los Angeles as her business blossoms, although she says that New York is energizing and inspires her. The drive and ambition of her grandmother Jenny Craig, who has visited Weinger in New York to advise her, has helped Weinger move forward with confidence in her business. Weinger is currently creating a Holiday line available in November that includes totes, a satchel and more clutches. “I’m constantly thinking about what’s next,” she said.
To see Sydney Weinger’s Morton & Hudson collection of purses, visit the online store at www.morton-hudson.com