Beautiful Bags

We talked to designer, Jessica Garvey Birch, about her collaboration with handbag brand, Jessie & Jane, her background as a designer and her inspiration for her new project.
Yin and yang. Puxi and Pudong. The future and the past. Shanghai is known as a city of contrasts. The new line of handbags from Jessie & Jane play with the Shanghainese idea of contrast, but emphasise the idea of crossover. 
Jessie & Jane is a Shanghai-based, luxury, yet affordable, handbag company owned by designer Jessie Jiang. Jiang was inspired by her travels to explore the idea of crossover in her next collection. She recruited Russian designer, Dinara Farizova, Italian designer, Daniele Locati, and British designer, Jessica Garvey Birch, to help her express the idea of crossover in her collection for Spring/Summer 2015.
“A friend of mine suggested me to Jessie and when we met, we clicked”, said British designer Jessica Garvey Birch. “It's always really exciting when that happens”.
Designer Jessica Garvey Birch was one of three diverse designers who collaborated with Jessie & Jane for this new crossover-inspired line.
“We spent a long time sharing ideas about craft and construction. The bags are very structured and modern, and my designs tend to be very playful, so we were excited to see what the result could be,” she said.
Garvey Birch's background comes in crafting. Her grandmother was a jeweller and taught her how to string necklaces, knit and paint. Although she went on to study fashion design at the London College of Fashion, she found it frustrating to focus only on the final shape. She chose to focus on woven textiles, trained as a weaver and has her own brand of handmade accessories that include ties and scarves in the UK. She currently works in industrial design.
Garvey Birch was drawn to the project by the idea of the novelty behind it, and the freedom she found in the process.
“I have never designed a bag before, so that in itself was an exciting prospect,” she said. “Also, as an industrial designer you are often constrained by budget or time. With this project, I was able to experiment with new techniques and challenge the actual manufacturing process.”
Garvey Birch's design features a grey industrial pattern, printed canvas body and a leather flap. She cites a Jessie & Jane bag sketch, her tomboy style and “swinging 60s” model Peggy Moffitt as inspiration.
“I could see the 1960's British reference [in the Jessie & Jane bag]. It is quite tomboy in style, which both Jessie and I related to,” she said. “This led me to the brilliant Peggy Moffitt. She was a model and muse with an asymmetric bob by Vidal Sassoon and the independent attitude to match. She wore bold and playful designs and make-up that contrasted with her structured black hair. I like the attitude and I wanted to incorporate it in to the bag”.
Garvey Birch shared her thoughts on the idea of crossover. “Today, a designer's aim is not to re-invent the wheel, but to re-evaluate what we have,” she said. “The only way that can really happen is by working together and looking outside the box. The crossover project is a great example of what happens when different design disciplines collaborate and share ideas. As designers, it's a good challenge and we hope that the result is something fresh and a bit different.”
Available at Cloud Nine Shopping Mall in Hongkou, Zhongshan Park Mall in Changning, Superbrand Mall in Pudong and Zhongsheng World Shopping Mall in Minhang. The two bags are priced at RMB 699. The carrying pouch costs RMB 399. Web: