With the death of the “It” bag well-documented, handbag designers need to create bags with staying power. Over the last six years, Be & D have quietly formed a niche for themselves in the luxury handbag market.
The Brooklyn label was launched in 2004 by Be Inthavong and Steve Dumain. Be has since left the company and Steve is now the creative director. Steve grew up in upstate New York on a horse farm, where he collected antique luggage. After living in Europe and South America, he developed an appreciation for art and sculpture. He did a stint as a screen writer before co-founding Be & D. A shoe collection launched in 2007.
The bags and belts are produced in their atelier on 36th Street in NYC’s Garment District. Shoes are currently made in Brazil, though the company is looking for a bigger space and hopes to move all production to the US soon.
I’ve always been a fan of bags with lots of hardware, and Be & D made a name for themselves with the studded Garbo handbag line. This was well before designers started studding everything from sneakers to lingerie a few years ago, a trend which now seems to be in decline.
I visited their atelier today for a peek at the 2010 Cruise Collection.
The bags are for grown-ups. They’re very ladylike, but a bit more directional. Be & D have almost entirely moved away from studs, though the signature hardware is still present. This season, it’s chains. Steve was inspired by the Machine Age and 1940s travel fashion (think railroad and steamer trunks).
The bags are mostly neutrals, with a gorgeous cobalt blue thrown in. There was a particularly interesting subtle animal print that was neutral yet unique. What I really loved was the functionality of each piece. Many bags had shoulder straps and tons of zippers and compartments. And the chain detailing was divine. Chain was woven into the handles, used as whipstitching on a gorgeous envelope clutch, and deconstructed and used as accents on belts. Chains also had a more traditional role on demure shoulder bags, but the Be & D rep told me that Steve calls them his “ghetto chains.”
The shoes had the same sensibility: quirky yet classic. A pair of cone heel booties with zipper detailing were great, and I have to admit I still love the studs on their signature Memphis flats.
This collection will be hitting stores October 15. You can find Be & D at Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and Shopbop. Shoes retail from $235-$498. Bags go for $400 for smaller models to $1300 for an exotic print. A bit pricey, but you could use these pieces forever.