Nashville Style in the BAG
David Bloom and his son Case definitely have the best-looking bags in J.J.'s coffee shop on Broadway- this despite the fact that we're surrounded by Vandy students and young professionals with their designer-brand briefcases and laptop totes. Boom's been a "bag nut" for years, and says the first time he ever worked with a hide of leather he felt like he'd been reborn. In the early 70's he befriended a Greek handbag-maker while living in Boston and studied the traditional craft with him and other skilled European artisans there and New York, knowing it was what he was meant to do,
From these experts he learned the fine art of leather-crafting, based on complex European techniques passed down over decades. "I leaned from a lot of the old school guys in the industry in New York" says Bloom. "I worked side by side with the last of a dying breed, many of them survivors of the concentration camps, who do things in a way we don’t in this country today".
His son and business partner Case interrupts, reminding me that true craftsmanship is a fading art, and that the few people who still practice those old skills have an obligation to take back what bags once were from the hands of the mass manufacturers and return them to a level of high craftsmanship and durability. Which s exactly what their company, Tucker & Bloom, aims to do.
Bloom has built a long career on his bag design and construction skills. His first company, Bloom Fine Leather Accessories, produced a much-in-demand roll-top bag that made the New York Times fashion section and sold at Macy's. Henri Bendel, Saks and Neiman Marcus. The small company (Bloom, his wife Dru and one additional employee) eventually closed when the births of their children Case and Maddie meant the couple couldn't keep up with demand. During that period Bloom began working with handbag companies including Etra, Sirco International, L.J. Simone and Ishihara Industries, which held the licenses for Courreges and Valentino. In the 1990's the family moved to Nashville, where Bloom headed the design team for Hartmann Luggage for five years. Independently, he's designed for Valentino and Perry Ellis, at one point moving back to New York to work for Coach, heading their travel line in 2000. Following 9/11 the travel industry slumped, however , and Bloom left Coach.
In 2006, Bloom and his now- grown son decided to give it another go family-style and started Tucker & Bloom (Tucker is Dru Bloom's family name and Case's middle name). Together, they decided to capitalize on David's exceptional design and construction skills and MTSU grad Case's promotional abilities, building a middleman-free business in Nashville. The Key is e-commerce, which allows them to reach out to the community, craftsman to buyer, in the old world tradition-just online instead of in a private atelier.
The target audience for the bags is wide, though common traits are discerning taste and the desire to differentiate themselves from the herd. Bag designs are separated by lifestyle needs – work, leisure or travel. Styles are not gender-specific; there's something to appeal to every customer. Fabrics are both sturdy and attractive, with leather, cotton canvas and ballistic nylon in a wide assortment of colors. Lush trim like calf-skin is obtained as food by-product from the agriculture industry. Checking out the website, you'll find an exciting assortment of messenger bags, laptop cases and other bags suited to all urban and suburban professionals. Neoprene product lines focusing on travel and leisure are expected to be available shortly.
The Blooms are hoping their band becomes something the public is looking for, and there's every reason to believe that's possible. The next step online will allow customers to customize each bag's color and materials. There's no question that e-commerce has changed the way we live and buy, and Tucker & Bloom provide an example of the best sort of e-business. They make cutting edge products available to the public without a middleman, working from a very forward-looking model even as they revisit the old values of craftsmanship and design. No brand name can give you that.
Published in Nashville Lifestyle Magazine June 2008 – By Stephanie Stewart