Handbag brand Boyy opens new store in Milan with capsule collection – WWD
MILAN – A large ceramic sculpture in the shape of a hand appeared earlier this month on Via Bagutta, inviting passers-by to explore the new store of upscale accessories brand Boyy.
Tucked away in the city’s luxury Golden Triangle shopping district, the location marks a key milestone in the growth of the brand, which was founded in New York City in 2006 by partners Jesse Dorsey and Wannasiri Kongman and is based between Bangkok and Milan.
After moving the company to Thailand for nearly a decade, the founders decided in 2018 to also locate in Italy’s fashion capital, which they frequently visit for business purposes, ranging from sourcing to materials for attending local trade shows.
“Italy has been an integral part of our life and our products since 2006,” said Dorsey, praising Milan for its “architecture and its deep history in design”.
“At the beginning, we came twice a year just for the Lineapelle [leather] fair, but then we started spending a few days and the longer we stayed the more we loved it, ”echoed Kongman in an interview at the couple’s lovely Milanese home, a short walk from the Boyy store.
Both spaces testify to the creative duo’s eye for design and color sensitivity, the former filled with artistic pieces contrasting with essential furniture and framing an unexpected view of a secret garden, and the latter developed to resemble a art installation rather than just a commercial location.
Another element the two sites share is the magical touch of Danish artist Thomas Poulsen, better known as FOS: while he was in designers, his work was revealed in some items such as mini vases. Mountain and the Street Lamp piece stuck in the living room, the talent was behind the entire temporary experimental concept of the store.
“I’m obsessed with his Celine-era designs,” Kongman said, referring to the FOS projects developed for the French brand during Phoebe Philo’s tenure, including concepts for catwalk sets and decorative pieces for its shops. “I didn’t know we could get some of the pieces he designed for stores, but it turned out that was his right to sell, so we started collecting them,” she said. added.
To redevelop the location of the 667 square foot Boyy store, which once housed an antique store, FOS installed hand-dyed fabrics in pale pink and orange as the walls, creating different areas to showcase different styles of bags. by hand. Incidentally, the fabric will be reused as limited edition bags when the facility closes.
Distorted mirrors reflecting distorted images dominate a display case and are added to the interior, where monolithic sand pedestals punctuate the space serving as product displays. Covering the floor, an electric blue carpet printed with spilled objects from Kongman’s own handbag plays more with visitors’ perceptions.
To mark the opening, which will be celebrated with a cocktail on Wednesday, the brand also released the Bagutta capsule collection, which includes some of Boyy’s must-haves rendered in new colors completing the setup as well as two new sizes of Bobby Soft and Wonton. . handbag styles.
During Milan Fashion Week, Boyy will unveil his spring 2022 collection, which will also revolve around the brand’s classics offered in new color tones.
“Due to the times and COVID-19, we felt that now was not the time to start offering crazy new versions of our bags. So we’re keeping it very simple for now, ”Dorsey explained, adding that the shoes will be highlighted instead. The couple played with the shoes in 2015 through a small one-style launch, before experimenting with other categories, such as sunglasses, silk scarves and hats.
“We’ve launched a new style of shoe maybe every year, but starting next year we’re going to be pushing this department a little more aggressively,” Dorsey said, revealing that eyewear is also expected to come back soon.
Meanwhile, handbags remain at the heart of the brand’s offering thanks to their sober and refined aesthetic conveyed by elegant and everyday designs that sell for between 500 and 1,800 euros approximately. Best-selling styles include the Bobby 23 bag, part of the Buckle collection launched in 2015, which has become Boyy’s most recognizable line.
“We made a big change that year on what we wanted to accomplish. Every six months we had to create entirely new collections and we were fed up with that energy and we were like, “Let’s slow down and create a timeless collection,” “Dorsey said, noting that the Buckle series remained the only one from the brand. . for three years, simply updated with new colors, materials and patterns every season.
Other key styles now include the Wonton design, which is part of the Take Away collection launched in 2019, and the Soft series introduced last year to offer soft leather alternatives and oversized proportions.
The company’s overall strategy is to optimize its wholesale presence, favoring expansion into new geographic areas rather than increasing the number of suppliers in the markets where it is already present, as well as promoting the growth of its network. direct retail in the future.
For example, in Italy, the brand has reduced the number of its wholesalers from 40 to 15. International retailers include La Samaritaine, Selfridges, Bergdorf Goodman, Harvey Nichols, Holt Renfrew, Antonia, Modes as well as Net-a-porter, LuisaViaRoma and Sens, among others.
Boyy also has four stores in Bangkok – including one flanked by a branded café at the Gaysorn Village mall – in addition to the Milanese unit and Rinascente shop-in-shop launched last year. In 2015, the company first set foot in Europe with a flagship store in Copenhagen, which eventually closed, but still helped the couple increase brand awareness on the continent.
While Dorsey has said she is not in a rush for further direct openings just yet, a series of pop-up projects are in the works. These include a long-term presence at the Globus department store in Zurich, where the Boyy stand is expected to remain for at least six months, and a pop-up at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong. A relocation of one of the brand’s units in Bangkok to a larger space is also on the agenda.
Europe is one of the biggest markets for the brand, but Dorsey acknowledged that this is mainly due to tourists, especially those visiting Asia, the Middle East and Russia, while the United States account for a large part of online sales on the e of the label. -Trade. Overall, he said sales were back to pre-pandemic levels and expects to end the year with revenue of around $ 22 million.
The designers describe their career path as a “kind of Cinderella story.”
“I was a DJ and a bartender while she [Kongman] was a waiter in a restaurant, ”Dorsey recalls. “As a musician, I made film music for an independent film, earning $ 10,000. So I put all that money into starting this brand.
Encouraged by Kongman’s passion for handbags, the couple kicked off the fashion adventure by developing a unique style that caught the attention of the press as well as Colette’s Sarah Andelman, who became the premier retailer. international brand. It was the start of the brand’s success at a time marked by the explosion in popularity of the “It” bag.
Now, to further propel the business, the company is increasing its investment in marketing. For the first time, he did not develop an internal campaign but teamed up with Jim Goldberg for the fall 2021 commercials, which pay tribute to the founding work of the American photographer “Rich and Poor” documenting and interviewing individuals. of various circumstances in San Francisco. between 1977 and 1985.
Likewise, with the Boyy campaign, Goldberg offers a glimpse into the inner realms of a cast of New York designers, including Collier Schorr, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Efron Danzig, Hawa Sahko, Franklin Ayzenberg, Jack Pierson and Kunle Martins. Topped with handwritten text offering the talents’ personal reflections on gender and identity, the images made their magazine debut this month and are set to appear on the streets of Milan during fashion week.
The brand was self-financing from the start and Dorsey rejected the idea of partnering with investors immediately.
“It’s not that attractive to us. We’re pretty happy like that. Who knows anything can happen, but for now we are just enjoying the trip and feeling so lucky, ”he said. “If we were to enter this world, we would lose something because then we would have to start reporting to the councils. “
“And we’re not very good at that,” Kongman concluded with a laugh.