In 2006, Montreal’s Jesse Dorsey and Bangkok’s Wannasiri Kongman met in Manhattan and launched Boyy Bags with a series of 1950’s French Riviera-inspired elevated beach carryalls in leather and canvas. Of course, that seems like ages ago now that the duo splits their time between NYC, Thailand, Italy and Paris based on a hectic production schedule.
“It’s quite dizzying, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” says Dorsey. These jet-setting designers—who “keep a place” in Tribeca and one in Bangkok’s chic Thonglor neighborhood—stay true to their staples. It’s easy to draw a line of descent from their start to the new Frankie bag their now signature Slash silhouette’s been reinvented as a mini—it comes in natural leather with leopard print and, in the regular size, in cheerful colors. Their mounting success is based on innovation too; we asked Dorsey to chat about the new shapes for spring.
ELLE: What’s the inspiration behind the spring collection?
JD: I looked back to my early teens, reminiscing about all the little things that caught my eye with such intensity: graphics on trading cards, bubble gum wrappers, album covers, goomie bracelets, MAD magazine, Asterix and Obelix comics, Lucky Luke, E.T., Michael Jackson—all surreal and fantastical. It was an era full of addictive graphics, imagery and materials. I also looked at artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. I’ve always loved how they take simple everyday objects and transform them into something visually captivating. I wanted to shake all this with ice and see if it was possible to translate into physical design.
ELLE: What’s it like working as a duo? Do you ever want to kill each other?
JD: During the early stages we wanted to kill each other regarding all things! Then, we focused on whose strengths lied where, which helped us distribute the work load better. Our conclusion is: If you have a partnership, do as little as possible together. Fortunately, now we only want to kill each other when it comes to design, but I think it’s that combustion which inspires our best work.
ELLE: Where do you source your materials?
JD: Our leathers, zippers and fabrics are sourced in Italy. In Thailand we source our exotics like python, shagreen and croc and we work with some Bangkok jewelers for custom hardware design. Production is in Bangkok, but we’ll actually soon be releasing a collection of sunglasses, scarves and hats which will be produced in Italy.
ELLE: Of the new silhouettes for spring, do you each have a favorite?
JD: I love our OSSIE bag. It really encapsulates everything I was going for: playing with the basic silhouette of a shipping box, but creating an animated effect. The brass staples up the sides and the natural vegetable tanned cowhide stitched as “packing tape” contrasted over punchy colors gives a playful, surreal effect. It also just holds well and feels great.
WK: I love our Filippo bag because of the combination of modern styling with classic structure. I love that I can switch up the top flap, so it feels like a new bag everyday. We plan on continuing replaceable flaps for Filippo every season.
ELLE: What makes Boyy different from other lines?
JD: I think it’s the attitude behind it, the understated luxury. The BOYY customer is confident, unique, intelligent, has style and is of any age really.
ELLE: Can you drop any hints about fall?
JD: We’re honing in on some clutches. We’re hoping to create some main-stays in a fashion that I believe hasn’t been done before? Fingers crossed. It’s still in development. We’re also working on new shapes, new techniques, getting back into some structured silhouettes and also playing with the slouchy effect.
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