MODELS Codou Diallo HANDBAGS Cara Benevenia FASHION Marist Fashion Archives
But being an eager, young designer came with limits.“Factories just hung up on me,” Benevenia says, reminiscing on when she first decided to build her brand. She began researching factories in New York City that gave her inflated prices for a single sample of the design she had been developing. “Maybe because I looked young, or I don’t have a name — I wasn’t going to be giving them 100,000 units,” Benevenia says. Struggling with keeping initial costs down, Benevenia dealt with not being able to meet purchase minimums when buying high-quality leather. “With these weaves, it’s trial and error in order to figure out where the colors are going to go. I can’t order all of this leather, test it out in a sample, and that color might not sell,” Benevenia notes.
She stuck with what she knew from her early design days, getting small quantities of overpriced material from the Garment District in Manhattan.
Her brand’s identity began to sharpen naturally when she found Leatherworks by Arturo. She walked into the factory with a top handle beach bag from Anthropologie that set her back $15, and a tiny mesh swatch with some strips of leftover leather woven through it. “I just kept thinking, if I made my woven plaid with leather, it would look so cool,” Benevenia says. “It was a little thing of mesh with two leather strips down the middle, and I go, ‘Could you work with this? Imagine it filled up with leather,’ and Christina just looked at me and said, ‘Let me go to the back.’” Campagnoli came back, and promised they’d work with it on an experimental basis. Now, Benevenia uses cow hides for the body of the bag, and custom treated lamb skins for the shiny leathers that, when foiled and laminated, produce the bright colors.
"but being an eager young designer came with limits"
“When the weave is done, it’s almost like a surprise,” Benevenia says. “Randomly combining colors, even ones that one wouldn’t typically think would sit well together.”
“That one is so new,” Benevenia says as she points to her rectangular matte black bag design, its top handle disconnected from the woven body and sourced from one of the last tanneries in America, one that specializes in leather for horseback riding saddles. “It’s really thick leather — then my factory cuts two parts of the skin together, they glue it, they paint it, they buff it, they stitch it,” Benevenia explains. The prototypes continued to evolve, as Benevenia cleaned up the design with different geometric combinations while working to overcome technical issues. “That was the development to get to this guy,” Benevenia smiles, holding up her Electric Blue Plaid Top Handle bag, already on its third iteration.
DISPOSABLES Shot on Kodak 35mm Single Use MODELS Rebecca Cole, Codou Diallo HANDBAGS Cara Benevenia
Volume 7 19
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