Houston Design

Jonathan Blake Switches Gears and Takes the Road of Accessories

Known for his evening wear, this designer now wants everyone toting his handbags.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen December 18, 2015

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Jonathan Blake's first handbag collection debuted in 2014. The designer says his new accessories will be less on the safe side and more so specific to his brand.

2015 has been a year of change for Houston's three most celebrated young guns in the fashion industry. Amir Taghi showed one last collection before heading off to college in London this fall; David Peck filed for bankruptcy before rising again, phoenix-like, with his new Miles David line. And now Jonathan Tinkle, who designs under the name Jonathan Blake, is getting a fresh start, too, taking a step back from the stunning evening wear for which he's known and launching an accessories line in 2016.

"I decided to take on two business partners and we met and looked at everything and decided to go in direction of accessories, to focus primarily on accessories, specifically handbags, belts, scarves, shawls and eventually shoes, sunglasses, jewelry and fragrance," says Tinkle.

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Houston designer Jonathan Tinkle, right, with Lynn Wyatt wearing a jacket from his apparel collection.

Tinkle is quick to note that the change in direction—he concedes it's like starting from scratch—was not because his clothing line was failing to find an audience.

"I did very well with apparel... [but] I had a personal family issue come up and it kind of interrupted that process. My business partners, they have the ability to take this to the next level, which is what I was looking for. I always wanted to expand out of Houston," he says.

Tinkle says he'll still take on the occasional custom commission from his most loyal clients, but aside from that, he's hoping to move his line into a wholesale business. He's already in talks with a couple high-end stores and boutiques in Houston to be among the first to carry his handbags and other accessories, debuting with the Spring/Summer 2017 collection late next year. 

"I've done one handbag collection before and there were three or four people that bought everything I had in stock. It sold out very quickly. With those bags I played it safe. These bags are designed with a lot of thought, they are very brand-specific with the way we incorporated my logo into design of the bag, with the hardware, everything," says Tinkle. "I'll always have colors [in my line]—my favorite color is sapphire blue, so that will probably always be in there."

The Jonathan Blake handbag line will feature eight unique designs, each produced in different sizes and materials, starting around $800 for his leather pieces and going up to around the $2,000 range for bags made with exotic skins.

"There's an emphasis on craftsmanship and materials," says Tinkle. "My goal is to create a bag that's so beautifully made inside as well as outside that it's used on a regular basis, not just once in a while for a special occasion. I want these to be worn all the time."

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