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August 24, 2023

Strike a pose: Maine handbag designer headed to runway show during New York Fashion Week

Woman by ocean with handbag Photo / Emily Sawchuck Becky McKinnell, founder of Wildwood Oyster Co., designs handbags inspired by her love of the beach and Maine's rugged coast.

Becky McKinnell, a Maine designer of ocean-inspired handbags and other accessories, is headed to a runway show next month during New York Fashion Week.

The Sept. 9 event will showcase eight of her handbags for Wildwood Oyster Co.,  along with the creations of 80 other designers from around the world. The show will be hosted by Flying Solo, a New York-based fashion collective for independent accessory, beauty, cosmetics and home brands.

McKinnell, founder and owner of Portland digital marketing and web development agency iBec Creative, founded Wildwood Oyster in 2018.

Her designs combine rich leather, colorful dock-line rope handles, industrial brass and hand-cut leather seaweed tassels. Each piece is made in Maine, and sewn to precision. The bags are sold online and at retailers across New England.

McKinnell also designs jewelry, and described the chance to have her bags “walk the runway” New York Fashion Week as a dream come true.

"This collection represents my love for the ocean and my desire to create a functional, minimalist handbag that is fun to wear and makes people smile, she said. “It's an honor to be chosen to showcase our work among some of the most talented up and coming designers around the world."

She told Mainebiz that she doesn’t yet know who will be modeling her handbags as they will be coordinated by the host, and that her bags will be paired with the work of another designer.

“Together we’ll dress eight models who will wear Wildwood Oyster Co. bags down the runway,” she said.

The Sept. 9 show will take place on the second day of New York Fashion Week, which runs from Sept. 7-13. Held every February and September, New York Fashion Week spotlights international collections to buyers, the press, celebrity influencers and members of the public.

McKinnell was a Mainebiz 40 Under 40 honoree in 2022 and a panelist in the Mainebiz Small Business Forum earlier this week.

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