Here in RI: Lush Leather

Here in RI: Lush Leather

Since Lotuff Leather got off the ground in 2013, Lindy McDonough 08 ID has helped shape the startup into an ethically grounded producer of luxury leather goods—and a great place to work. The well-respected creative director recently accepted an invitation to join the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a select group of leading designers in the US that recognizes her growing impact on the accessories industry.

Lindy McDonough 08 ID explains Lotuff’s processes to RISD President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID.

McDonough designs and oversees production at Lotuff’s warehouse studio in Providence, where 70% of the team is comprised of fellow RISD grads—artists who maintain their own studio practices in off-hours and draw enormous satisfaction from learning to master the craft of making Lotuff’s technically complex leather backpacks, handbags, wallets, briefcases, travel bags and more. In fact, the company prides itself in investing in young artisans willing to perfect skills such as cutting, assembling, stitching and painting fine leather goods.

“We’d be nowhere without the continued commitment of the people who make our bags,” CEO Ellen McNulty-Brown noted in The Providence Journal last spring. “We have to continue to be able to attract and retain the same caliber of people that we’ve been lucky enough to find so far. We have to continue to exceed the expectations of our staff—and of our customers.”

For McDonough, exceeding expectations is an approach she has carried over from RISD. After graduation she followed the well-worn path south to New York City, where she apprenticed at a top independent boutique. There, she discovered a space in the market for emerging designers, drawing inspiration from their entrepreneurial spirit and creative energy. When two childhood friends subsequently approached her to partner on a luxury leather goods collection, she didn’t hesitate to return to Providence to help make it happen.

From day one, McDonough has immersed herself in every aspect of Lotuff Leather. In addition to designing the company’s signature bags, she learned how to draft patterns, operate industrial machinery and construct a top-quality bag from start to finish.

The standard McDonough sets for quality allows Lotuff to guarantee each piece for life. And it inspires the studio’s ever-growing team of 21 artisans to push to refine their own skills. A decade after graduation, she’s pleased to be leading a team sustained by a sense of shared purpose and helping to make Lotuff a recognized leader in the handmade leather goods market.

—Liisa Silander


Eckhaus Latta Follows Its Own Lead

With their first museum exhibition ever—at the Whitney—fashion favorites Mike Eckhaus 10 SC and Zoe Latta 10 TX continue to defy the desire to define their evolving practice.

Alums Ready to Shift Gears

Matilsha Marxuach 94 CR, Amy Devers MFA 01 FD and Jerrelle Guy 12 IL spoke about how the flexibility they learned at RISD has helped them pivot professionally.

Fresh from the Tropics

With their roving project Toqa, alums Aiala Rickard 17 AP and Isabel Sicat BRDD 16 IL are creating daring apparel inspired by youth culture in the tropics.