Saturday, July 11, 2009

Getting carried away: A studio visit with accessories designer Sang A

Back in May, Carine Roitfeld told The Guardian (UK): "You know, I think as you get older, the snake is more chic than the leopard." She happened to be wearing a pair of Margiela python boots, but her mantra applies just as well to the delectable python bags from accessories designer Sang A.

The bags have that rare combination of immaculately well-made good looks and neat solutions, (detachable chains, deceptively & beautifully lined interiors, and well thought out clasps).

Sang A didn't start out dreaming of making bags. Far from it. With a background as a highly trained dancer, she spent her early twenties in Korea as a successful singer & actress, with three albums to her name. Although she had styled her own videos, it wasn't until she moved to New York, and signed up to study at Parsons that she moved across to the fashion industry.

(Sang A in her studio). Since the launch of her eponymous collection for Spring 06, she has specialised in bags made in both exotic skins (croc, ostrich & python) and leather, all of which are manufactured traditionally in Italy.

I've carried her bags at events:

Sang A bag(yup, those are my stubby fingers) and included them in editorial but never had time, until last week, to visit her studio to see the collection in its entirety.

Hidden away in a building in the heart of New York's SoHo, the studio is the accessories equivalent of a candy store:

These bags are the Jade clutches, (starting from $982 for leather, and available in alligator, python & ostrich). Big enough for more than just a $20 bill & a lipstick, they make great evening bags. As Sang A told me, "I carry around three data devices, so I always design my bags to fit these at least." They work equally well during the day for the same reason: they fit plenty of stuff, not just pared down essentials, without looking like an urban survival kit's been crammed inside.
Of course there's more to see than just enchanting evening bags. Intelligent women will appreciate the chic backpack styles (next season's big thing), which include removable exotic exterior shells so they can be worn in several different ways, which makes for a sensible return on what can be a hefty fiscal investment.

I'm inexorably drawn towards a table of her Migration Duffel (the cream & yellow Degrade bag $1895 in the foreground is from her latest collection) & Cine bags.

This is the Cine Bag in hand waxed rustic grey python. An investment piece through and through at $4749, it looks substantial, yet is unexpectedly light, as I discovered when I started getting carried away.

The detailing is perfect, from the simple magnetic clasps

to the capacious, easy to use open wide interior, with its pretty polka dot print lining (a Sang A trademark), and sensible pockets.

If these prices have you choking into your cocoa, rest assured that the entry level prices for Sang A's bags are distinctly more achievable. These delicious Python Pouch bags are $484.

and these striking card cases start at $209:

Sang A card caseBut my current lust after pieces from the collection are her series of parallelogram shaped Flash bags, especially this one in Bronze Mirror leather at $695:

Sang A Flash bagSang A is stocked in the following stores, amongst many others: Augustina in London, Vivre online and Kirna Zabete in New York. A full list of stockists can be found here and her online store is here.