May 23, 2015 12:02
With fashion trends coming and going by month, season and year, keeping up leaves us exhausted, so it’s a relief that we have Sambag.
The Aussie label, which launched as a handbag only brand but has since branched into apparel and shoes, is a go-to for many women because of its timeless pieces.
Every bag, shoe or cashmere jumper from Sambag is one that you’ll be wearing for years, regardless of the fashion trends that come and go.
Sam Wagner started the brand by selling handbags at Paddington markets on weekends. With the brand where it is today, we find that hard to imagine!
We caught up with Sam to chat about Sambag, her favourite handbag and the importance of having an environmentally friendly brand.
Missy Confidential: The Sambag story is one of real success. Could you begin by telling us about the brand's humble beginnings and how it first came about?
Sam Wagner: I launched Sambag in 1997 as a bag label after an eye-opening trip to New York. I was newly married and working full-time. I spent my weekends selling the range at Paddington markets and at parties held at home. I soon left my job to pursue Sambag full-time and added a wider range of handbags to the line. Soon the brand was stocked in high-end boutiques across the country. After introducing shoes to the line, I showed at fashion week for the first time in 1999 and the rest is history!
MC: How has the brand evolved since then?
SW: I opened Sambag’s first store in 2005 in Sydney’s Woollahra, where I still live today. After many sleepless nights, the store launched with a wide range of shoes, handbags and a small collection of cashmere. The brand has continued to strengthen and we now have 12 boutiques Australia-wide: 5 in NSW, 3 in VIC, 2 in QLD, 1 in WA and a thriving online boutique. Apparel has now become more of a focus for me – I love to perfect timeless shapes using luxurious fabrications.
MC: How many women would you guess are walking around wearing Sambag clothes, shoes or bag today?
SW: Our products are so timeless that they appeal to everyone – mothers, daughters, and grandmothers… I would love it if a pair of our ballets or one of our cashmere knits was in every woman’s wardrobe!
MC: Is there something special about Sambag that has made it so popular, so successful? There must be something unique that draws people to it!
SW: I think people can relate to Sambag as a lifestyle brand, our point of difference is the fact that we provide classic pieces in luxe fabrications that work with every busy woman’s lifestyle. Whether it’s a simple ballet flat, a great piece of denim or a cosy knit, our pieces won’t go out of style and there is something for everyone.
MC: What is the inspiration behind Sambag's collections and designs?
SW: I draw inspiration from various sources – I am quite a tactile person, so I love to look to nature for inspiration, and I’m a real art-lover – my house is filled with artwork and tapestries that I have collected over the years. I also love to reference past decades, particularly the 20’s, 60’s and 70’s, to draw inspiration – it can really be found anywhere!
MC: Sambag is quite environmentally friendly. Why was this something important to you?
SW: I think as a brand we have a responsibility to care for our environment. Internally, we recycle all of our shoe boxes and shoe bags and are committed to ethically sustainable practices.
Sambag is known for producing products in luxury fabrication. We take particular care that we only buy python that is farmed for its leather rather than buying endangered species or sourcing from a natural habitat.
Producing clothes can be so damaging and that’s why I think it is important to stock brands like Haikure, which uses eco-sustainable treatments and adds a QR code to all of their jeans, which enables the purchaser to scan and trace the entire supply chain from seed to final manufacture. It is initiatives like this that really raise awareness about the impact we are having on our planet.
MC: How would you describe the Sambag woman?
SW: The Sambag woman is stylish, successful and elegant. She adores fashion but doesn’t take herself too seriously. She is a busy lady – whether that is in her career or with family – but she takes the time to treat herself to a little bit of luxury.
MC: If you could see any person in the world wearing or carrying one of your designs, who would it be and why?
SW: I absolutely love Sarah Jessica Parker, she is a real style icon and perfectly embodies our brand. We have also had Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts and Elle Macpherson wear our pieces, which is an achievement in itself!
MC: Many women spend their lives searching for the perfect handbag. What is your idea of a perfect handbag?
SW: A black leather tote – it goes with everything. It has to be big enough to fit all the items I lug to the office and back home with me, but small enough that it is practical for every day. I like something with an optional longer strap, which I incorporate into many of my designs, as this makes a bag much more versatile and easier to wear.
MC: Do you stick to the one handbag (we call it the 'old faithful') or do you swap from bag to bag and on the average day, what would we find inside it?
SW: I generally use the same bag for a season but I like to mix it up once the new season rolls around. We produce so many beautiful handbags at Sambag it is hard to stick to just one! I always have my wallet, phone, keys, a great pair of sunglasses, my Bobbi Brown lipstick, mints, my Serge Lutens Fleurs D’oranger perfume, hand cream, my Papier D’Amour diary and a few fabric swatches thrown in there. It’s all a bit of a jumble!