Tracey Tanner: On The Low Points Of High-End Design


Illustration by Thoka Maer

DESIGNER TRACEY TANNER is not your typical Williamsburg artisan. For starters, her outlook is far less rosy and far more realist than the imagined life of a maker of small-batch, handcrafted goods like the beautiful handbags and leather accessories she designs. Instead, Tanner has a refreshingly honest, candid approach to the challenges that independent artists and entrepreneurs face in this city. “It’s something that I’m questioning everyday,” Tanner says when we ask about the best part of working in Brooklyn. “Is it really worth staying here? I love it and I hate it. I found a really affordable place, but I had to get a roommate. I don’t really want to be living with somebody else at 35. It’s not a realistic city to get ahead, financially. It is, in terms of networking and meeting various people, but when all is said and done here, it’s not long for me.” It’d be a damn shame, though, if Tanner were to leave the city, since the second and much more important reason she stands apart from most people forging the same kind of career is, plainly, her product. Forgoing forgettable trends for long-lasting wear, inspiration comes from the leather hides themselves, which Tanner sources herself in Italy. “I’m not doing anything that’s like, ‘Oh, that’s so inventive.’ I don’t think I’m reinventing the wheel.” And in a city where innovation, often at the expense of quality or utility, feels like an all too common goal, thank goodness there are still people who find perfecting the original an equally worthy task.


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