Jem Leaf was born and grew up in Kyoto, Japan. After moving to New York City and working as a fashion and textile designer for many years, she opened her store in Nolita in December of 2000 and began producing her original line of bags, wallets and scarves. She values practical and comfortable yet stylish products that make everyday life enjoyable. Her drive for unique and versatile design has helped her create bags and other products loved by generations of users for their ideal detail-conscious construction, colors and materials.
Highway bags are prized for their premium quality nylon material which comes from Japan. Using hand-made pigments and a textile dye system called “Jet Dyeing” make it possible to create textured surfaces with subtle and delightfully unique colors generally considered difficult to achieve with nylon. “Jet Dyeing” also only permits small quantity batches to be dyed at once, which makes this circular dyeing system eco-friendly due to low water and electricity consumption. The resulting nylon has a soft texture, is extremely durable and environmentally friendly.
Highway is also thrilled to present scarves designed in New York by Jem Leaf. Her hand-painted designs on paper and street photographs are transferred digitally to fabrics manufactured in India. The fabrics, usually modal/cashmere blends, are woven by hand and printed carefully by experienced artisans that deal with thin and delicate textiles. To retain the original design’s detailed strokes and colors, the translation from concept to paper to digital transfer to beautiful modal/cashmere fabric was perfected over many years of trial and error.