Designers To Watch: Mateo New York

NEW YORK, United States - The story begins in Montego Bay, Jamaica where a young Matthew Harris was born and raised the son of a seamstress. He would later move to the United States to pursue a secondary education and years later, his luxury brand Mateo New York would become one of the finalists for America's largest prize for emerging design talent.

The beauty is that the self-taught Harris didn't begin his brand in luxury, but in fashion jewelry 8 years ago. Selling over one million dollars of his early women's jewelry collections on HSN was evidence enough he was moving in the right direction and surely one of the aspects that caught the attention of the judging committee - Harris had proven commercial success. Three years ago, he transitioned the business to cater to a higher-end consumer and refocused as a fine jewelry brand. Each piece is made from 14 carat gold with a consistent use of diamonds and precious gemstones.

Mateo New York Madeline Bag

Mateo New York Madeline Bag

Now one can find his minimalist designs inspired by Alexander Calder and Wassily Kandinsky alongside a chic leather goods assortment, which includes two signature bags: Elizabeth and Madeline, both fashioned from Italian nappa leather by a collective of Portuguese women. With a flagship store in New York's SoHo neighborhood, Mateo New York is shedding its fledging start-up coat to reveal a budding and savvy brand to watch.

At first glance, the Elizabeth and Madeline bags strike similarities to the centuries-old, but recently revived Belgian luxury brand Delvaux. Harris' accessories show the beginning of a strong stable of artistic designs that are timeless and not trend-driven. With financial support from the CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund (if he wins), Harris can hopefully infuse more novelty and singularity to his leather goods as he has with the fine jewelry, to further solidify his mission of creating 'modern art for the modern woman.'