You’d be hard-pressed to find a logo on one of Kendall Conrad’s accessories. Instead, gorgeous, durable leather and artisanal details are the hallmarks of her eponymous line, which is quickly gaining cult-like status among those in search of label-less, cool pieces. A hobo bag in buttery leather is a timeless shape, yet its subtle stitching and brass hardware give it a bit of an edge. Gold-studded wrap sandals are delicate and earthy all at once. Not to mention the sophisticated color palette – rich browns, a just-so shade of bone, subdued animal prints, and naturally, classic black. And all are made in California with super-luxe leather that’s meant to last – and even get better with age.
One might as well be describing Conrad herself, who gives off an air of laid-back elegance emblematic of her native Santa Barbara. Conrad’s specific brand of quiet luxury has struck a chord – Vogue, Town & Country, and C magazine (where she also serves as a contributing editor) are among her fans, and in January Conrad opened her third stand-alone shop in the Montecito Country Mart, joining the Abbott Kinney flagship in Venice and an outpost in Brentwood. And there’s a new brass jewelry line, too, which launched last year. Think organic stacking rings and hammered hoop earrings, the kind of pieces you want to wear everyday.
Good taste seems to be second nature to Conrad. As the daughter of an interior designer mother and a bullfighting/artist/author father, she draws inspiration from artists as varied as Jean Cocteau, Franz Kline, and Matisse (check out her refreshingly well-edited blog), along with nurturing a lifelong passion for travel, decorating, and horseback riding. And Conrad is an avid entertainer, too, often hosting at her Montecito house – a Spanish-Mediterranean spread filled with gorgeous textiles, rugged antiques, and collections of ceramics and black-and-white art.
But perhaps it’s the perpetual equestrienne in Conrad that continues to inspire her most. A seasoned rider, she grew up on the hunter/jumper circuit in northern California with summers spent herding cattle at the family dude ranch in Montana. It’s a constant theme in the collection ever since the launch, in which she partnered with a local saddle maker for her first handbag prototype, until today as she continues to use details like hand-stitched whips and a girth-turned-cuff bracelet that’s borrowed straight from the stables. Here on Taigan, Conrad shares some of her favorite picks:
Barbour Utility Jacket – The perfect jacket for a colder day here in California – it does get cold, and this is lightweight but warm. I like that it has pockets, too, to hold more things since you don’t want to put everything on your saddle.
Charcuterie Trio – Sometimes I go on trails and take a delicious picnic, especially when friends visit from out of town. This charcuterie kit is perfect for it – it doesn’t need refrigeration, it’s easy to pack and delicious!
Cheese Gift Box – More delicious things for the picnic!
Mustard and Cornichons – Great to go with the charcuterie.
Pocket Knife – You never know when you will need a knife out in nature. This one looks just right and can fit in my pocket.
Foutas– These are good looking and work as a picnic blanket or double as a scarf if the weather drops.
Towelettes – Always need to clean my hands when I am riding.
Sunblock – I won’t go out in the sun ever without sunblock on my face.
Chapstick – Great all-weather chapstick for extreme conditions and for being out in the sun all day.
Ouchy Boo Boo Gel – It’s nice to have this on hand in case my horse or I get a cut.
Skinny Active Wear Pants – These could function as a good substitute for riding breeches.
Military Green T-shirt – This is a great looking t-shirt and good to ride in – it’s nice to have layers, especially in northern California.
Leather Journal – I take a journal with me everywhere, I get notions or ideas or thoughts in my head, always want to keep it handy. And maybe it would fit into the Barbour jacket pocket.
Boots– Equestrian-inspired boots, not for riding, but I would wear them with jeans and skinny cords and a cashmere sweater in the winter.