New brand offers customisable totes

Save My Bag bags were intended to be protective covers for designer bags, but are so practical that women use them on their own

Save My Bag founders Stefano and Valentina Agazzi used to hand out early versions of the lightweight bag as door gifts.
Save My Bag founders Stefano and Valentina Agazzi used to hand out early versions of the lightweight bag as door gifts. PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Before they became trendy accessories, the colourful and lightweight bags of Italian brand Save My Bag used to be handed out as door gifts.

The label's founders, married couple Stefano and Valentina Agazzi, distributed early versions of the bags at a jewellery event in Las Vegas in 2012 and noticed that women used them as protective covers for their expensive bags when it starting raining.

They also received requests from women who wanted to give the bags to sisters and relatives, which confused them.

Mrs Agazzi, 33, who is of Thai and Italian parentage, says: "We were wondering why such a sophisticated clientele would be interested in such a basic product."

The Agazzis, who have two sons, then decided to launch the brand at the end of 2013 with the Icon, a style intentionally designed to resemble the iconic Birkin bag from French luxury brand Hermes. It was priced at €59 (S$89).

Made of a poly-fabric with lycra fibre material created by Mr Agazzi, 42, the bags feel like neoprene but are lighter and softer.

Throwing his tropical print Principe bag onto the floor and kicking it with his foot, he says: "It's wonderful for travel and you can also wash it."

He and his wife spoke to The Straits Times last month when they were here to meet the press and customers at their flagship store at Wheelock Place, which opened last December.

The brand is also available at the handbag department at level 2 of Takashimaya department store, although it has only half the range.

The brand has eight flagship stores in Italy and 10 flagship stores abroad, and is available at more than 1,000 stores worldwide.

The bags, Mrs Agazzi adds, are targeted at women aged 30 to 45 who "already have a lot of designer bags and are looking for something cool and practical".

Although intended to be protective bag covers and as secondary bags for a change of shoes or clothes, the bags have proven to be so practical that women use them on their own. Their popularity has led to imitations worldwide in places such as China and Europe.

To protect their products, the Agazzis updated the design of the Icon in May. Renamed the Miss, the bag features a zig-zag cover flap instead of a straight-edged one and has a more prominent logo placement. Customers can also attach shoulder straps to the bag.

A deluxe version of the same design, called the Black Label Miss, was launched last month and features zipper closures and internal pockets based on customer demand. It also has contrast piping details.

The brand currently has nine different bag styles, including the fringed Hippie clutch and the Baby mini backpack. All the bags are designed and manufactured at the company's headquarters in Bergmo, Italy.

A big selling point of the brand is the wide range of colours and prints available - from neon yellows and electric blues to bold prints such as a cartoon done in the style of American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.

Mrs Agazzi says: "The idea is to have a lot of different colours for women to choose from - every woman likes to play with colours."

At the Singapore flagship store, prices for the bags start at $169 for the Miss to $289 for the Principe. Accessories such as scarves and bag charms start at $39.

The company is on track to meeting its target of $15.14 million in global revenue, with the Asian market accounting for about 30 per cent of sales. In Asia, it has stores in the Philippines, South Korea, Hong Kong and Indonesia.

The bags are not just a hit with women. About 10 per cent of their customers are men, many of whom are from Japan and use the Miss Weekender, says Mrs Agazzi.

In Singapore, Ms Shirley Wee, 39, who owns a clothing boutique at City Plaza in Paya Lebar, is a fan of Save My Bag. She says she has spent about $3,500 on 12 bags, three of which were for friends.

She owns six Miss Weekender bags and three Miss bags, in bright colours such as neon pink and in graffiti and cartoon prints.

She says: "I like that their bags are washable and I can put a lot of things in the Miss Weekender bag."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2016, with the headline 'From door gift to must-have'. Print Edition | Subscribe