“I believe in the magic of things that are created by hand.”
– Paige Davidson, Cahoots Handbags
Original. Handcrafted. Vintage-Inspired.
These terms are tossed around the fashion world like so many cheap trinkets these days, but what do they really mean? Today, we’ll introduce you to a new-to-us Texas line that renews and reinforces their definitions. So truly does Cahoots Handbags embody this spirit, in fact, that we’d add another word to the list: Authentic.
Artist Paige Davidson launched Cahoots Handbags in 2003, from her hometown studio in Gainesville, Texas. Seeking a fresh creative outlet, she upcycled vintage fabrics into limited-edition totes, clutches, and shoulder bags. The resulting accessories were affordable and adorable, and they hit well ahead of the current boom in the cutesy vintage-look sector.
Fast forward a few years, and Davidson debuted the Cahoots boutique on Gainesville’s historic courthouse square. Located in her grandfather’s former auto parts store, it represents both commitment and legacy. As her hometown roots grew deeper, Davidson’s brand was featured in many magazines, and even made an appearance at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards.
Read on to peek the product and the brick-and-mortar, plus learn why this authentic Texan would consider it a compliment to hear that her creations look like your grandmother’s couch. Really.
DFW Style Daily: What initially inspired your line? Describe your very first creation.
Paige Davidson: “I had a need for a project outside my painting studio, so my mom, sister, and I started playing around with our collection of fabrics and making some patterns. Our first bag was an earlier incarnation of what we now call our Classic Bag. That trapezoidal shape gave a nod to the sleek classic shapes you’d see on the arm of Jackie O., but exaggerated in a different way.”
Why is upcycling vintage fabric important to you?
“My grandparents were antique dealers in their retired lives. They instilled in us an appreciation for history, and things that are old. Antique and vintage pieces have a story, and those stories are important.”
You say that a handbag “has the potential to replace the security blanket of your childhood.” Explain the philosophy behind that statement.
“Each customer that comes into our shop or walks up to our booth at a market makes a comment along the lines of, ‘This looks just like my grandmother’s couch!’ For each person, it is a different fabric, but the connection seems to be the same. We each have colors, textures, and patterns that make us nostalgic.
“We’ll run across prints when sourcing fabrics that remind me of a shirt I had in kindergarten, or the bedspread on my grandmother’s bed. For most of us, there is a comfort in those childhood memories, and having a daily reminder of those memories to carry on your arm is comforting.”
Your roots in North Texas run deep. Why is living and working in Gainesville important to you?
“Our family is very tight-knit, and we genuinely like hanging out together. I love the fact that I get to work with them daily. Equally important is the fact that my studio and store is housed in the building that was my grandfather’s auto parts store from 1945 through the mid-1970’s. His was the longest-running business in this historic building, built in 1897. I can’t imagine not being here to work with the ghosts of Gainesville’s past.”
You are also an accomplished painter. What do your two creative areas of focus have in common?
“I believe in the magic of things that are created by hand. My sign-painter-artist dad and sewing and crafting mom instilled that early. Both the paintings and the handbags incorporate that natural draw toward combining colors and creating compositions.”
Who is the Cahoots client? Describe her personality, and where she loves to carry her handbags.
“The joy of our line is that our fabric and styles vary greatly, from crazy, bold 1960’s tapestries to sophisticated brocades. There is literally something for everyone. Even ladies who are normally set on a black leather designer bag will carry one of our wacky clutches inside their bag for a little bit of fun.”
Finally, would you care to shout-out to any other favorite local businesses, if our readers make the trip to Gainesville?
“Gainesville, Texas, is a charming little town! Our store is located right next to the Fried Pie Company. When I have visitors in town, I take them there for breakfast, followed by a walk around our historic neighborhood. We have a great number of restored Victorian homes and shops around our courthouse square. Kinne’s Jewelers, for example, has been open since the 1800’s. If you’re sticking around overnight, stay at the Shady Lady Bed & Breakfast.”
All images, courtesy of Paige Davidson. Cahoots Handbags are available online and at 205 South Commerce in Gainesville, Texas. For more information, visit CahootsHandbags.com.