How Lyndsey Butler Creates a Collection

There’s math. And it’s fun.

Sure, there’s a ton of creativity involved, but Lyndsey Butler’s design process is very exacting. “People tend to think that you dream up this idea, and it happens,” explains the woman behind the leather line Veda, which isn’t nearly as tough as the core material implies. Here’s what goes into creating a collection, from start to finish. —erica


A sketch, side-by-side with a magazine editorial that inspired it.

“In the beginning, my team discusses as many designs as we can come up with. The ideas can come in many forms. Some come from vintage pieces—like, ‘Oh I have this thing that I really like that I’ve had for years.’ Some come from pictures or from skins we saw while visiting a factory. It’s a hodgepodge, but usually we have a plan—say, we know we want to design 20 pieces. It takes a few weeks of sifting through that stuff and deciding what we want to move forward with. I like to sketch out everything that I might be into doing and go from there.”


Clothes being constructed in the in-house production space that Veda shares with The Reformation.

“The next step is drawing the pieces we actually want to move forward with in more specific detail—a front, a back, the stitching. I have a girl who works for me who’s a technical designer, and we talk about the waist length, the fit, all of the measurements. I really like the technical part—it’s fun, and it’s kind of nerdy. At this point, we’re picking colors and choosing skins, too. It depends on the shape of the piece and the season. We also spend a lot of time here asking, ‘What’s that one detail we really want to tie it all together?’ Those finishing touches make a collection feel like a collection, not just like ten jackets. Then we do our first samples. About 60 percent of the designs are sent to a factory to be made, and 40 percent of the samples we make here. The most exciting part is getting the first samples back.”


Computer sketches of the fall 2011 collection.

“For the second or third round of samples, this is how we communicate with our factories, our showrooms, and with each other—through these flat, basic, computer sketches that give you the essence of a style. There’s another sheet that goes with them that lists the skin, the color of the zipper, the measurements.”


Photos from the holiday 2012 lookbook.

“We go through this process until we shoot a piece for the lookbook. Usually at that point, I’ve been touching it, working on it, and spending all this mental energy on it, and I’m like, ‘Get it to the showroom as soon as possible!’ Otherwise I’ll just want to keep doing something to it, like changing the armhole or whatever.”

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Lyndsey Butler’s 10 Travel Essentials

She really has the whole packing thing down.

“I try to go out of town whenever I can,” says Lyndsey Butler, the woman behind the suitcase-ready, leather-fueled line, Veda. And while most of her travel used to be business-centric, she’s been able to squeeze in more genuine vacations lately—and is starting to get into surfing. “I’ve been a few times—in Costa Rica and Bali—and understand the concept, but I’m not that good. I can stand up, but I can’t say that I can do much more than that,” she explains. “But it’s fun. Any little progress you make, you feel like you just conquered something—like, ‘I stood up for half a second. I’m awesome.’ I kind of feel like I did when I first started Veda.” Here’s what Lyndsey puts in her carry-on for any excursions that involve sun and sand. —erica


1) A Breezy Black Dress
“I like to pack a lot of black because it just makes things easier—you can dress it up, dress it down. This is part of my spring collection, and I just love it. It has a leather front and a silk back. It’s light enough for walking on the beach but covered-up enough for going out to dinner.”

2) The Latest Issue of The Paris Review
“I try to pick them up every season. I get really into the author interviews. I collect them, but not really intentionally. They sort of feel like books, so I can’t throw them away.”


3) A Teeny Bikini
“I usually like the tiniest bikinis I can find—which becomes a problem when you’re going on vacation with anyone but your closest friends. I just want to get as much sun as possible. I think this one is Brazilian. I got it on the beach in Miami.”

4) A Moleskine
“I usually have some sort of a notebook. I don’t necessarily collect things, but I keep a lot of things in it—mail, pictures of friends, old receipts I don’t want to lose.”


5) A Beachy Lotion
“This Mountain Ocean Skin Trip lotion is always with me, and now my boyfriend won’t stop using it. It’s really nice and coconut-y.”

6) An Oversize Denim Shirt
“On the plane I wear shirts like one I got at the RRL in Malibu with boots and black Citizens leggings/jeans—jeggings, if you will. Then, when I get to wherever I’m going, they pack up nicely.”


7) An Easy Leather Jacket
“Sometimes wearing black in the spring can be a little bit harsh. We’ve been doing this Max jacket since the first collection—I have it in every color we’ve ever made—and for this season, we treated one to look like washed denim.”

8) Too Many Books
“I always bring more books than I need—like five books for the three days that I’m going away. Last night I stayed up until two in the morning finishing Freedom. I’m going to try to finish Flaubert in Egypt next.”


9) A Small, No-Fuss Bag
“On the plane, I’ll have a big bag, but once I get somewhere, it’s nice to be able to just tote around my ID, cash, lipstick, and camera. This Alexander Wang one is great because you can only fit the essentials.”

10) A Bright, Vacation-Ready Cover-Up
“I just got this when I was in Argentina. I have a lot of things like this that sit in a little suitcase, ready to be sifted through when it’s time to go to the beach. You get most of these kinds of things when you’re in an exotic place, so they have a story.”

Come back tomorrow for Lyndsey’s latest edition! So. Freaking. Good.

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Lyndsey’s Guide to Leather

At Veda, skin is in. The designer has even found a way to make the material look like denim.


Lyndsey demonstrating the wear-and-tear potential of a denim-esque finish.

When Lyndsey Butler started Veda in 2008, she decided to start out working exclusively in leather, a choice driven by practicality as much as by aesthetics: She didn’t want to try to master at a dozen materials at once. “Not that I’m lazy, but as one person I really wanted to be able to focus on the shapes of the pieces and get them right,” she explains. “Now that I’ve done that, I can focus on details, linings, and skins and not spend so much time worrying about fit.” Even with just one material, there was plenty of learning to be done, as the term leather covers all sorts of materials, with varying textures, weights, and vibes. “Most people think leather is cow. But usually it isn’t,” Lyndsey says. Here, she walks us through her discoveries—and her favorite ways to add some oomph.

Lyndsey used an awe-inspiring striped lambskin for the vest she designed just for Of a Kind. Check it out—and pick up one of the five in existence—here.


Two swatches of super pliable lambskin—one striped.

Lyndsey’s Go-to Leathers:
+ Lambskin: “Lambskin is lightweight, and the skins themselves are smaller. I like it because it has a drapey, fabric-like feel. It’s so much more supple and luxurious than, say, a cracked leather jacket from a vintage store.”
+ Goat suede: “I think suede can have different connotations, and I stayed away from it for awhile because it felt too retro to me. But goat suede—I don’t even know what it feels like. It’s amazing.”
+ Pig leather: “It’s not something that a lot of people use, but I like it because it has kind of a vintage-y feel. I only use the suede side, which looks different from most suedes and has that very specific, seventies tan color.”


A silver-foiled hide, a piece of rabbit fur, and a swatch of tie-dyed goat suede—all of which are part of the Veda fall collection.

Lyndsey’s Favorite Treatments Right Now:
+ Screen-printing: “This season, we wanted to try printing on leather. We considered florals but got kind of scared—which floral to pick? Then we thought of stripes. The result doesn’t really read like leather, at a glance, but I think that once you see it is leather, it kind of blows your mind.”
+ Tie-dyeing: “For fall, I’m doing a tie-dye. I guess it could feel like spring, but I’m doing it on suede. We started with the cream-colored material and then dyed the black.”
+ Distressing: “For this denim effect I love, you dye one color on the underside and another dye on top. With wear, the color underneath starts to come through. The same goes for the foiling technique we use for metallics. We start with a piece of tan hide that, with time, starts to show. That way it doesn’t feel so metallic, like Tin Man or something.”

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Notes

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How Lyndsey Butler Creates a Collection

There’s math. And it’s fun.

Sure, there’s a ton of creativity involved, but Lyndsey Butler’s design process is very exacting. “People tend to think that you dream up this idea, and it happens,” explains the woman behind the leather line Veda, which isn’t nearly as tough as the core material implies. Here’s what goes into creating a collection, from start to finish.


A sketch, side-by-side with a magazine editorial that inspired it.

“In the beginning, my team discusses as many designs as we can come up with. The ideas can come in many forms. Some come from vintage pieces—like, ‘Oh I have this thing that I really like that I’ve had for years.’ Some come from pictures or from skins we saw while visiting a factory. It’s a hodgepodge, but usually we have a plan—say, we know we want to design 20 pieces. It takes a few weeks of sifting through that stuff and deciding what we want to move forward with. I like to sketch out everything that I might be into doing and go from there.”


Clothes being constructed in the in-house production space that Veda shares with The Reformation.

“The next step is drawing the pieces we actually want to move forward with in more specific detail—a front, a back, the stitching. I have a girl who works for me who’s a technical designer, and we talk about the waist length, the fit, all of the measurements. I really like the technical part—it’s fun, and it’s kind of nerdy. At this point, we’re picking colors and choosing skins, too. It depends on the shape of the piece and the season. We also spend a lot of time here asking, ‘What’s that one detail we really want to tie it all together?’ Those finishing touches make a collection feel like a collection, not just like ten jackets. Then we do our first samples. About 60 percent of the designs are sent to a factory to be made, and 40 percent of the samples we make here. The most exciting part is getting the first samples back.”


Computer sketches of the fall 2011 collection.

“For the second or third round of samples, this is how we communicate with our factories, our showrooms, and with each other—through these flat, basic, computer sketches that give you the essence of a style. There’s another sheet that goes with them that lists the skin, the color of the zipper, the measurements.”


Photos from the spring 2011 lookbook—check out a video of the collection here.

“We go through this process until we shoot a piece for the lookbook. Usually at that point, I’ve been touching it, working on it, and spending all this mental energy on it, and I’m like, ‘Get it to the showroom as soon as possible!’ Otherwise I’ll just want to keep doing something to it, like changing the armhole or whatever.”

Take a look at the drapey vest Lyndsey designed just for Of a Kind! There are only five of them, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

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Notes

32 notes

Lyndsey Butler’s 10 Travel Essentials

She really has the whole packing thing down.

“I try to go out of town whenever I can,” says Lyndsey Butler, the woman behind the suitcase-ready, leather-fueled line, Veda. And while most of her travel used to be business-centric, she’s been able to squeeze in more genuine vacations lately—and is starting to get into surfing. “I’ve been a few times—in Costa Rica and Bali—and understand the concept, but I’m not that good. I can stand up, but I can’t say that I can do much more than that,” she explains. “But it’s fun. Any little progress you make, you feel like you just conquered something—like, ‘I stood up for half a second. I’m awesome.’ I kind of feel like I did when I first started Veda.” Here’s what Lyndsey puts in her carry-on for any excursions that involve sun and sand.


1) A Breezy Black Dress
“I like to pack a lot of black because it just makes things easier—you can dress it up, dress it down. This is part of my spring collection, and I just love it. It has a leather front and a silk back. It’s light enough for walking on the beach but covered-up enough for going out to dinner.”

2) The Latest Issue of The Paris Review
“I try to pick them up every season. I get really into the author interviews. I collect them, but not really intentionally. They sort of feel like books, so I can’t throw them away.”


3) A Teeny Bikini
“I usually like the tiniest bikinis I can find—which becomes a problem when you’re going on vacation with anyone but your closest friends. I just want to get as much sun as possible. I think this one is Brazilian. I got it on the beach in Miami.”

4) A Moleskine
“I usually have some sort of a notebook. I don’t necessarily collect things, but I keep a lot of things in it—mail, pictures of friends, old receipts I don’t want to lose.”


5) A Beachy Lotion
“This Mountain Ocean Skin Trip lotion is always with me, and now my boyfriend won’t stop using it. It’s really nice and coconut-y.”

6) An Oversize Denim Shirt
“On the plane I wear shirts like one I got at the RRL in Malibu with boots and black Citizens leggings/jeans—jeggings, if you will. Then, when I get to wherever I’m going, they pack up nicely.”


7) An Easy Leather Jacket
“Sometimes wearing black in the spring can be a little bit harsh. We’ve been doing this Max jacket since the first collection—I have it in every color we’ve ever made—and for this season, we treated one to look like washed denim.”

8) Too Many Books
“I always bring more books than I need—like five books for the three days that I’m going away. Last night I stayed up until two in the morning finishing Freedom. I’m going to try to finish Flaubert in Egypt next.”


9) A Small, No-Fuss Bag
“On the plane, I’ll have a big bag, but once I get somewhere, it’s nice to be able to just tote around my ID, cash, lipstick, and camera. This Alexander Wang one is great because you can only fit the essentials.”

10) A Bright, Vacation-Ready Cover-Up

“I just got this when I was in Argentina. I have a lot of things like this that sit in a little suitcase, ready to be sifted through when it’s time to go to the beach. You get most of these kinds of things when you’re in an exotic place, so they have a story.”

Check out Lyndsey’s exclusive design for Of a Kind! It’s leather, it’s striped, and it’s amazing.

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Veda

Lyndsey Butler is not one of those devout fashion girls who’s been drawing dresses ever since she could hold a crayon. “I studied philosophy and religion at NYU. I liked the philosophy better because the texts are so dense. It was fun to go to class and hear other people’s opinions—you’d think, ‘I didn’t read that into that line,’” she says.

The Texas native fell into working for Yael Aflalo, who created Ya-Ya and now runs The Reformation, during her senior year in college. Lyndsey quickly discovered she had a knack for—and interest in—the industry. “At first, I was like, ‘This is a stepping stone. This is just to have a job out of college.’ But I really liked the clothes and being a part of the whole vibe,” she explains. Eventually, Yael convinced her to put off going to grad school and to stick around for a while. After spending a few years working on the business side of things in New York and L.A., Lyndsey delved into design, launching Veda in 2008.

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