THAT THING WITH THE BUCKLE
The designers at Boyy owe their brand’s success to a considerable portion of the digital fashion community. These striking bags that feature a belt have gone viral.
Wannasiri Kongman, from Bangkok, and Jesse Dorsey, from Montreal, are a designer couple with a doubly deserved reputation. The two work together and are married. They encountered each other for the first time in New York in 2004, and they launched Boyy two years later. The bags from their joint label have grown into classics in just a short period of time. The brand name is already often mentioned with Balenciaga or Céline in the same breath.
Most brands need several decades before they ever make it to the ‘Olympics of handbags’. Is the Internet the reason why Boyy grew so fast?
Dorsey: The Internet did in fact play a key role. We had absolutely no money left after launching Boyy and it was at exactly that time that the Daily Candy fashion newsletter published a feature about us. That brought us a tonne of orders overnight, and those orders were crucial to our commercial survival. Later on, fashion bloggers posted content that helped us become discovered by relevant people.
The signature detail on your current bags is a belt buckle. How did you come up with that idea?
Kongman: We were looking for something that was timeless yet eye-catching. It wasn’t at all easy trying to find it. I still remember the moment well: we had just designed our ‘Bobby’ tote bag and I wrapped one of my favourite belts around it. We looked at the result and immediately knew we’d done it. It was love at first sight!
You travel to Italy regularly. What’s so special about Italian craftsmanship?
Dorsey: I think it’s the country’s long tradition of making leather products. Italians understand the high expectations we have of our products and they have the knowledge and skill to make our wishes a reality. We go to Italy at least three times a year.
Kongman: I never wanted to travel out to no man’s land to get to tanneries or factories. The idea was always a little bit unglamorous to me, to be honest. Now I love it. It’s so inspiring to see what’s there. The people are unbelievably passionate about what they do. It’s true craftsmanship. One time we went to a small sewing studio and I was wearing a studded Versace leather skirt. The workers seemed like they were whispering something about me and I didn’t understand what. Later someone told me that the skirt was made in that studio!
Recently you’ve also begun to design clothing on top of bags, shoes and accessories.
Dorsey: We’ve just finished our first capsule collection. We’ve named it ‘Motel Bed’. The vintage materials we’ve collected for it throughout the years are former working materials from French, Italian, Japanese and Thai factories. The collection includes various blouse and trouser sets that can all be combined differently. We’d like to keep the concept going and already have a few new ideas.
What celebrity would you want Boyy to inspire?
Kongman: Audrey Hepburn!