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Minimalist Handbag Startup Targets ‘Mindful’ Consumers

New York City-based accessories brand Advene launched its second consciously crafted handbag style.

With a heavy focus on eco-friendly materials and versatile design, Advene said the Edge Bag updates a timeless silhouette for the modern, post-pandemic world. The small, sleek shoulder bag taps into consumers’ desires for simplicity via modern lines and a suede-lined interior.

Advene launched in fall 2020 with a convertible style dubbed the Age Bag, which transforms in size and shape based on the wearer’s carrying needs. According to the brand, the Edge Bag is also made with 100 percent Catalonian leather from Spain, like its predecessor, providing supple smoothness as well as durability. The bag’s construction is free of plastic, the company added, and the piece’s sculpted shape is reinforced instead by compressed leather pulp.

Available in black and camel color ways for $395 on the Advene website, the Edge Bag launches alongside new iterations of the Age Bag in caramel leather and an organic hemp fabrication.

Advene has updated its Age Bag in two new color ways, including a cream hemp fabrication.
Advene has updated its Age Bag in two new color ways, including a cream hemp fabrication. Advene

Crafted in Italy at a carbon-neutral, solar-powered facility, the bag was conceptualized during 2020’s quarantine period, Advene co-founders Zi Xuan and Yijia Wang said. A stripped-down, minimalist silhouette equipped to carry just the necessities, the bag’s design was inspired by the philosophy of yin and yang, they added. “The Edge Bag is about balance—the sharp lines are softened by tulip-shaped gussets that expand into a soft wide shoulder strap, bringing a natural sense of visual peace to the overall design,” they said in a statement.

The Covid crisis prompted the founders to reexamine their designs in early 2020 before their first batch of bags hit production. “We started to conduct market research among women ranging in age from 21 to over 70, trying to figure out if there was any change to their bag needs for daily uses,” they said, as well as if sustainability and conscious production would play a part in future purchasing decisions.

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The Edge Bag, front and side views.
The Edge Bag, front and side views. Advene

More than 80 percent of survey respondents said the pandemic prompted them to pay closer attention to a product’s origins, Xuan and Wang said, and “paused most of their impulse-driven consumption.” Another 80 percent of prospective shoppers also reported spending an average of two to three weeks mulling over a potential purchase, with functionality and sustainability ranking high among the factors influencing their decisions.

“Interestingly enough, during that window, half of them took considerable time learning about our research, development and production process on our website and social platforms,” Xuan and Wang said. The founders learned through in-person interview sessions that supply chain education was becoming a driver for consumers to support small businesses like theirs. “Customers love when a brand is transparent and open about their processes—it’s different from the traditional players,” they said.

Advene's Edge Bag will be available on the brand's website on Thursday.
Advene’s Edge Bag will be available on the brand’s website on Thursday. Advene

“The pandemic enhanced a more conscious consumption mentality—people become more educated and rational consumers,” they added. “They not only are making purchases that make sense financially” due to higher quality and durability, they said, “they are also are mindful of how the making of products affects laborers and the planet.” By releasing one style at a time, Advene is able to keep its eye on the ball in sourcing responsibly and developing intimate relationships with its craftspeople, they said.

“We have had a slow start due to the pandemic—a delayed launch and a cold beginning—simply because people didn’t really need bags at the time,” the founders admitted, speaking to the release of the Age Bag last fall. “Fortunately, we’ve been able to have some significant month-over-month growth starting from early March, partly due to the vaccine rollout along with some friendlier weather, allowing for more outing opportunities,” they added.

“We look forward to more growth in the near future when pandemic starts to gradually fade away and people begin to seriously consider new bags for their daily adventures,” Xuan and Wang said.