For Boyy, it’s in with the old
The members and founders of leather accessories brand Boyy discuss how the pandemic inspired them to look to their own archive for a fresh – and sustainable – design approach
By Rosalind Jana Images and video courtesy of Boyy Wednesday 18 March, 2020
The pair are currently in Thailand where they have their flagship in Bangkok, a further four stores and a cafe, too. ‘Because I’m Thai, we have a fanbase [here] that makes Bangkok feel like the home of Boyy,’ Kongman explains. ‘We don’t really have brands that go international, so I think they feel so proud and happy for the brand.’
It all began back in New York in the mid-noughties, with Dorsey working in the music industry and Kongman waiting tables while she studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. ‘When we met, she already had an extreme obsession with handbags. I didn’t,’ Dorsey laughs. ‘But her passion got me into it. It was almost contagious. We’d stroll around downtown Manhattan and every girl that walked by, she’d break down the bag and explain it to me.’
Over the following years, their bags dangled from the wrists of everyone from Sarah Jessica Parker to Chloë Sevigny, with the brand moving its operations from New York to Bangkok, and then on again to Milan in 2018. In the past five years they’ve switched up the tempo, focusing more on creating accessories with real sticking power, rather than ‘churning out new styles’. It’s perhaps this more reflective mode that’s seen them dubbed the ultimate ‘anti-it bag’ brand, the pair collectively honing a select number of silhouettes and signature details.
Their creative process is both collaborative and hard-won. ‘When we started the brand, it was absolute hell. Looking back, the problem was that neither of us knew what we were good at,’ explains Dorsey. It took time for the duo to figure out how they wanted to work together. ‘It’s always, to this day, very combative,’ he adds. ‘But the way I theorise it, with friction and pressure, out comes the diamond.’
More recently, they’ve turned their attention to other projects, specifically a design initiative called Boyy Up. It was an idea that the pair had talked about for a long time, but never found the right moment for. As it turned out, it was COVID-19 that gave the couple the extra time and latitude to think seriously about the project. For this initiative, currently being sold exclusively in a dedicated pop-up store located at the Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok and online, they’ve looked inwards: delving deep into their own inventory of previously purchased raw materials and finished goods to create fresh designs. In doing so, they’ve been able to sustainably recycle lots of stock and push themselves creatively.
Although a relatively new endeavor, the project seems indicative of the general ethos that Boyy has always maintained. As Dorsey observes, ‘the way we design handbags is that we look at them as objects first, and then all the purposes of a bag come second. It has to be able to stand alone and have an incredible presence.’ These latest designs do just that, reimagining classic silhouettes and adding all sorts of eye-catching twists. Like everything else Boyy does, it’s playful, but also very considered.