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The Handbag Heaven: Catching Up With the Sisters Behind GAYA Handbags

The Style Spy caught up with designer WEI WEI CHANG from Gaya. Started in 2003 by three sisters, Angela, Sally and Wei Wei, the small accessories company in Vancouver has grown into an internationally recognized accessory design and distribution house. We love Gaya at The Style Spy, and we know you will too!

Tell us about the first handbag you designed?

The very first bag I designed was a frame coin bag. As an apprentice, I was told to make the same bag everyday until I could make it with my eyes closed. Later on, I was obsessed with frame bags, and made a couple of them for myself. It was such a convenient container and I thought why not make it attachable to all my big totes! I designed my first attachable frame bag and got short listed with that design for IHDA Best Student-Made Handbag in New York.

What was the inspiration behind the fall line?
For winter and fall 2008, I used lots of washed goatskins for a more distressed finish, which adds a sense of age. I also used lots of details that you usually only see from high-end brands such as French binding and quilted leather.

Your favorite bag from the current collection:

BG080311 is my favorite bag of all; I kept the first sample I made for myself. The quilted leather with the French binding transformed this piece of work into a very luxurious looking bag. The first version of BG080311 was slightly longer in proportion than the production version for the customers’ convenience. I’ve always fancied odd proportions. This bag was also the very first design for the fall collection.

Perfect bag for the girl on the go:

BG080309L is definitely for the girl on the go! Lots of my girlfriends went mad when they saw this bag. They said, it looks chic to carry on your arm (like all the celebs in paparazzi shots) or to carry it over your shoulder.” It also has an extra feature- it’s got an attachable purse on the outside! This is the bag that you won’t be afraid to put tonnes of things inside and still look damn good!

Perfect bag for the minimalist:

BG080312A. This bag is so simple; I wanted to show an appreciation for circles! I remember when I first drew out this design people told me that a circle is not the best shape for bags. I thought to myself, my collection is always about breaking the rules of a traditional handbag. Bags are a mixture of fashion and function- the ability to hold things, but as for fashion you can go as wild as you want!

Perfect bag for a night out on the town:
WA080302. This frame clutch has been our best seller for several seasons and for this fall we have developed a special tinted patent to add a little glimmer for a night out!

What bag are you currently carrying?

I am carrying a cream frame tote with black piping from the ’70′s that I found in a vintage market in London. It’s got lots of room so I use it as my school bag! You will be surprised what you can find in the vintage markets in London. I find they are chic to carry and they often inspired me. In fact, collecting unique vintage bags is something I am obsessed with.

What’s new at Gaya?
A fresh lineup of accessories. For fall 2008 there are belts and wallets in lambskin leather and polyurethane as well as 100% cotton scarves in the season’s hottest colours.

Where can you buy Gaya?

Gaya is distributed throughout the world – United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia. You can find Gaya in Vancouver at The Bay, Plenty, Obsessions, Find Finds, and 4th Ave. And you can shop online at www.gaya.ca. Prices range in price from $40-$250.

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Reader's Comments

  1. you girls totally have to check out GAYA. they’ve got some great designs and also the price points are really good for the quality you get.

  2. wow the stuff is really nice and they have great prices… I would most likely buy some of their items if they showed more pictures–I would like to see the interiors of the bags! What compartments do they have? what does the lining look like? They should also note the dimensions of the items on the site so we know how big the bags are! Definitely great items I just want to know more before buying!

  3. they do look nice, i think they should name the bags though, the numbers are confusing

  4. I became a fan when I saw the Gaya bags in person at the 4th Ave grand opening. Beautiful! I especially like their signature peony hardware and the bags in bright blue patent leather.

  5. Pingback: Gaya handbags: bold and beautiful | The Volts