notes from afghanistan… a minute with accessories designer katie hatch

July 18, 2011  |   column: WHAT'S NEW

after a hop, skip and a plane ride across the atlantic, our very own accessories director katie hatch returns from afghanistan, where she met the amazing group of women behind our upcoming collection of handmade accessories, as a part of our partnership with women for women international.

so tell us, how was your trip?

fascinating and very productive. i spent the first day at our training center—where the women were knitting and practicing our designs for the upcoming collection. we went over details for this year’s pieces and i walked them through next year’s designs. we were all sitting in one room on pillows, making our products by hand.

what were the women like?

they were great. you instantly get the sense that they have a genuine desire to make a better life for themselves. there were about 15 women that day, though the number varies. you have to realize, it’s not the same sort of thing we have in america, in terms of infrastructure. these women walk to the center, and sometimes they may not be able to get through the roads. they face a different set of challenges in their everyday life that most of us simply don’t understand, which is why i find it incredibly touching and exciting to be a part of this partnership.

any rising accessories stars in the making?

there were a few girls i met who were so quick at picking up the bracelet and jewelry-making. they had this nice aesthetic sense about them, you could tell. it was really exciting for me to see—i felt like i recognized kindred spirits!

did you get to explore the town while you were there?

we went to old town street markets. it was fascinating to see all the vibrant colors amidst the hustle and bustle—they sold fruits and vegetables, aluminum pans and house wares in every shade. i was intrigued and wish i had shopped a bit more among the colorful pots and pans.

ah yes, the afghan bazaar. did you come home with any local treasures?

i got to do a little carpet shopping—rug-making is such an art form there. it was super fun to negotiate with the guys at the bazaar—there was always a bit of a smile to the negotiation. i think they actually enjoyed it!

did you pull any inspiration for upcoming designs from the trip?

definitely. i don’t want to share specifics quite yet because they will be part of the next set of designs, but the women in the program showed me things they’ve made that were completely inspiring and that, with a twist or two, will be great for kate spade new york.


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