A global campaign for wool saw its patron, Prince Charles, at a wool exhibition in New Zealand this week. Six Kiwi designers were asked to create a one-off woollen carpet bag for the event, to showcase the iconic bag that first emerged in the 19th century but is now making a nana-cool fashion comeback. Three of them tell us more about their designs.
A horseshoe and a brilliant blue and silver zigzag feature on Andrea Moore's carpet bag, both taken from her 2013 autumn winter collection.
The Auckland designer's range, The Hunt, embodies the rush and adrenalin of a classic horse chase. And her bag, which Moore plans to sell in stores from February for about $695, is called The Delight Bag because of the idea of freedom, energy, movement and adrenalin created by the zigzags, hunting theme and horse prints.
"So I thought that would make a really amazing, very graphic shape on the carpet bag, and it's framed in leather," she says. "Kind of action-packed inside."
Moore is drawn to carpet bags because she finds each carpet is unique, so each bag has personality.
The zigzag print features on a merino scarf from Moore's Autumn Winter '13 collection. The bag's interior is printed with a horse shoe, evoking a "galloping horse" feel, Moore says.
A classic manbag, the shape and style was inspired by Moore's leather supplier, Leatherworks. The highly detailed bag is made of leather, knitted wool yarn and a cotton-drill lining, and a special backing on the wool is designed to give the bag a round shape.
"It's a carry-all, and it's a beautiful strong structure with lots of colour. I think it's definitely coming back into fashion, and it's kind of an essential go to. A little overnight bag without wheels, so it's more personable.
"On the shop floor, our customers love wool - they love the feel of it and the drape and the snuggliness of it and warmth."
TONY MILICH- SABATINI
Auckland knitwear label Sabatini's carpet bag was inspired by ancient Turkish carpet bags.
Some of the tribal patterns used in Sabatini's current season collection of merino wool garments also feature on the carpet bag.
Made of leather, tan-brown shiny snakeskin patent leather and multicoloured merino wool held together with heavy stitching, the overnighter has "all the bells and whistles women require", says designer Tony Milich.
It has zips and inserts for storing makeup and smaller items and, he says: "There are buckles and clasps and everything else that go into making the whole thing."
Available for purchase next winter, the multi-coloured, leather-bound appeal of the bags is their "exotic-ness". "It sits well with boutiques because they love to have accessories, so we will be showing all our boutiques what we did so as we can take advantage of our foray into making bags."
Milich's bag is smaller than the original Turkish bag.
Sabatini is produced by Sonny Knitwear, which Milich directs, producing merino handfinished knit products, and exporting to Australia. "Merino is sustainable, it's clean,
it's reusable, it's recyclable, it's everything. As long as my business survives and continues to prosper, I will always use merino in my winter collections, because it's part of us."
LIZ FINDLAY- ZAMBESI
Inspired by the traditional Maori flax kete, Zambesi designer Liz Findlay's modernised carpet bag is of woven wool, giving it a handcrafted feel.
The main fabric used is 100 per cent New Zealand wool and a textured leather is used for the kete's base and handles, and the interior is lined with checked wool.
The design is based on a bag that has been part of Zambesi's range since 1979. "I wanted it to speak of New Zealand," says Findlay, who is the fashion ambassador for the Campaign for Wool.
"I think the carpet bag has always been there.
"Obviously it becomes a trend every now and then, but I'm not a great follower of trends, so I kind of wanted to do something that we would do - which is the black carpet bag inspired by the kete."
"We handcut the fabric and then had it handwoven, so we've kind of woven it much in the same way that you would weave a basket or carpet or anything really. And it's black of course, which was what appealed to us from the fabrics that were available."
Zambesi, based in Auckland, is a great advocate of wool, and has been using it since the brand was founded in 1979, for men's suits, dresses and in other garments it wouldn't usually be used for.
"I love using wool. It's an amazing fibre. And because we do men's and women's it crosses very easily over both sections. It's wonderful to work with."
The one-off "Wool Kete", says Findlay, "definitely speaks of Zambesi."
Zambesi made the bag specifically for The Campaign For Wool, but will produce the bags on request, as a limited edition.
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