Santa Ana-based Harveys has long been known in the county and beyond for its sturdy seatbelt bags that come in a rainbow of colors and patterns (Weekly Associate Editor Patty Marsters must own about 80 percent of them).
The husband-and-wife team behind the Harveys name, Dana and Melanie Harvey, spawned the first seatbelt purse in 1997 after installing the restraints in their 1950 Buick. After friends, family and virtual strangers complimented the couple endlessly, they decided to set up shop in their one-car garage.
The business has obviously outgrown that, and the Harveys have expanded into a 12,000-square-foot Santa Ana design studio and raked in about $3.1 million in 2004 alone, and their bags are now available in some 800 retail outlets, including Bloomingdale’s.
While the solid-colored seatbelt bags that got Harveys started are still available in more colors than ever, the company has also delved into an artist series, collaborating with pop illustrator Gary Baseman and tattoo artist Sid Stankovits to create a children’s line, wallets and more. Baseman, an artist, cartoonist, painter, TV producer (the now-axed Teacher’s Pet) and vinyl toy designer, is known for his acid-trippy, immediately recognizable, totally accessible lowbrow art. He even created the visual theme of Cranium, my favorite board game ever. The bags are a clear reflection of Baseman’s art—odd, slightly curious, yet still somehow adorable.
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And now the Harveys have gone in a more sophisticated direction with their mod-inspired, luxury Vertigo Collection. Part of the new Harveys Boutique handbag line, Vertigo pieces are made of lightweight embossed-seatbelt webbing, complete with leather accents and contrasting silver hardware, the standout piece being the Vertigo Satchel ($338) in black. If you don’t mind having HARVEYS stamped all over your bag, the Vertigo Satchel is every bit as sturdy as the original seatbelt-bag designs, this time with a distinctly “designer” silhouette. With its looks and price tag, this new line is obviously aimed at a slightly more, er, refined clientele—something that’s sure to attract all the Coach and Dooney & Burke fans who want something more distinctive.
Another new element to Harveys is the use of leather. The Carriage Large Satchel ($498), in a gorgeous mahogany-colored leather with gold hardware, features woven leather strips—slightly reminiscent of an enlarged Bottega Veneta bag for a fraction of the cost.
Something else to look forward to is their collaboration with Disney Couture, part of Harveys’ winter/holiday 2008 collection. The bags will feature the same hardy seatbelt webbing, only printed with classic Mickey Mouse comic panels.
Harveys retail store is located at 3011 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 550-7105; www.seatbeltbags.com.