Neiko Design bags are how I like to define New Yorkers: tough yet elegant, classic and timeless, classy and fashionable. Lucky us, we got to interview Amanda Truong, the woman behind the bag designs whose very hands stitch together each unique bag. These bags are functional, stylish, totally affordable, and not just for the ladies! (In fact, if you’re looking for an early Christmas present for yours truly, I am particularly fond of the Winton and Rogue.)
Name: Amanda Truong
Occupation: Handbag Designer & owner of Neiko Designs
Borough/Neighborhood: Manhattan/Upper West Side
Tell us a little about Neiko Designs and how you got started: I’ve always wanted to be a part of a creative group either working for someone or owning something myself but didn’t quite know what that “something” would be. After finishing handbag design courses at FIT and instead of looking for a design job, I had decided to start Neiko. I wanted to create a special niche for individuals seeking products that are non-massed produced and an appreciation for simplicity in design.
Your bags are beautifully constructed, functional, handmade to order and unisex. Tell us about your process. How long does the process take from when a bag is ordered to completion? Each bag is slightly different in terms of time and difficulty to complete. When an order is placed, I would trace the pattern onto the leather and then cut out the individual pieces. Then I would have to hand-punch the leather in order for me to hand sew. The inside lining also needs to be traced and cut on the fabric and then sewn. After all the holes have been punched – I have to hand assemble and hand sew the whole bag. This whole process can range from 6-10 hours. To have a better understanding of our process, please visit us at http://www.neiko.com/process.html
How would you describe the Neiko man/woman: I would describe Neiko carriers as dynamic individuals with eclectic tastes that don’t necessarily follow the “norm”. People who are not afraid to express their individuality and have an “eye” for good design and style.
What designers inspire you? We definitely appreciate fashion trends but our work does not stem from what the current fashion state is. I don’t look at fashion magazines – my sources of inspiration comes from studying and looking at designs from the 1940s through 1960s which can range from architecture, furniture design, product design, and music. I love the simplicity yet strong design from these eras – their use of the clean straight line created such bold beauty. The classic designs from the Eames, Le Corbusier, and Eero Saarinen are timeless. For Neiko, this is what we strive to create in our work – more of a timeless classic product than just a seasonal “handbag.”
Favorite music to listen to when creating a bag: I have a lot favorites and depending on the mood I’m in, Thievery Corporation’s beats usually inspires and motivates me to design smarter and better whereas Bossa Nova’s soothing sounds is great background music – especially if I have a lot of sewing to do.
Favorite place to eat in the neighborhood: Yikes – UWS is not really known to have good eateries – unfortunately if I want a good meal I’d have to leave the area…although Shake Shack just opened up in the neighborhood a greasy burger and fries are always good and I like to wash it down with a cream puff from Beard Papa‘s.
Little known fact about your neighborhood: Edgar Allan Poe had lived and wrote “The Raven” near or around West 84th Street (between West End Ave. and Broadway) during 1884-1845.
Favorite watering hole: I feel embarrassed to say I don’t drink…is that bad? But if I had to watch my friends drink – Blondies on West 72nd between Broadway and Amsterdam.
Favorite place(s) to shop: I can spend hours in Kinokuniya (Japanese bookstore) browsing through magazines and books. Hands down, they have the best design books ranging from fashion to architecture than any other bookstore I’ve been to. [Ed. That bookstore is amazing!] My other weakness is fabric shopping at Purl, Mood and City Quilter.
Best pizza in your hood: Big Nick’s Burger and Pizza joint – “Big Nick Special Pizza” [Ed.: I am a longtime fan of their spinach pies!]
If there was a movie of your life, what neighborhood would grace the opening scene? This is a tough question – I think I was born in the wrong era…what I’m envisioning is some alley or market place where people are apprenticed in learning a specific hand skill a few hundred years ago – maybe some cobbled street in Italy but then I’m Asian – I’m not sure how that would work? Some cobble street in Asia?
What is your all time favorite monster and/or horror movie? The Shining