Tote bags are the newer and more fashionable way to carry books and laptops from class to class. They are made from a variety of different materials and make the perfect accessory for self-expression and DIY art projects.
Don’t have one yet? Luckily, Created By Lee is a fashion brand currently creating its spring collection of tote bags and is run by a Montclair State University sophomore fashion studies major Lamier (Lee) Thompson.
Thompson only found his interest in designing tote bags in 2020. The bags took the internet by storm as they began to trend on TikTok during the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown. This gave creative fashion designers, like Thompson, the chance to focus on something new.
Thompson has a large variety of different inspirations that keep his motivation high and his style unmatched. Virgil Abloh, the recently passed fashion legend who is known for founding Off-White and being the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, is one inspiration.
He specifically loved Abloh’s spring collection that was featured in the 2019 Louis Vuitton spring fashion show. Thompson is currently working on a few Virgil Abloh-inspired tote bags that will be included in his upcoming collection, which he is very excited to share.
“I wanted to make 10 bags [for this collection],” Thompson said. “Right now, I’m at about eight or nine.”
Thompson additionally records the developmental process of his new collection and posts them to his brand’s Instagram account @createdby.lee.
“I [record] it as inspiration for myself and for others who want the motivation and confidence in their abilities to do it, too,” Thompson said.
Thompson gets the majority of his materials from tapestry blankets found in local thrift stores, such as Udelco, located in Hawthorne, New Jersey. A close friend of Thompson, Jillian Patino, a sophomore exercise science major, talked about how this tied into Thompson’s creative process.
“We went to the thrift [store] and picked out a bunch of material, and everything he made turned out beautiful,” Patino said. “That kid’s creativity really only continues to thrive and prosper.”
Thompson’s creativity is something that stuck out to Miriam Loubia Pierre, a sophomore exercise science major, who models for Lee’s bags.
“[Thompson] is one who thinks and creates outside of what many individuals would call ‘the norm,'” Pierre said. “I think each of the bags displays their own form of character and individuality — from the brightness of the color to the [shape of it].”
One of Thompson’s tote bags is one of his most recent works and is also a sneak peek into what is to come. The bag is reversible with two opposing textures, one of the sides being completely covered in pink fur. Thompson strives to make his tote bags not only an accessory but a statement — a piece of art that compliments the outfit.
Another good friend and a model for Lee’s bags, Jezz Venida, spoke on what she liked about the design of Thompson’s bags.
“One thing I really appreciate is the availability of several patterns, silhouettes and sizes ranging from big to small, to essentially cater [to] each and everyone’s functionalities,” Venida said.
Before starting his first collection, Thompson remembers talking to his friends and church family, who were extremely supportive the entire way through. Patino was one of those supporters.
“Creating clothing, creating accessories, modeling and the way he grows his faith in God — I’m always so proud of him and grateful to have him in my life,” Patino said.
Thompson has shown massive dedication ever since he started working on this collection at the beginning of November. His passion grew so large for fashion designing that there would be days when he worked on his tote bags until 4 a.m.
“I put so much time into this … it’s crazy,” Thompson said. “It’s a blessing to see.”