Last year in March, I introduced Fulani, a luxury handbag and accessory line based in the US which utilises beautifully woven traditional Senegalese fabrics. I recently caught with the designer, Souadou Barry to chat about her latest Autumn/Winter collection, gaining an insight into her inspirations, processes, and the woman she designs for.
A55: What is the name of the collection and how many styles are there?
SB: I’ve named this Collection “Amy”. Amy is my muse for this Collection.
She is fearless, highly fashionable, elegant but yet practical and each bag is made in her image; in classic and elegant silhouettes that will stand the test of time, but still very much current with what is happening in fashion. The Amy Collection has 6 styles, and each comes in 3 different colours.
A55: What is the inspiration behind this latest collection?
SB: My designs are very much influenced by my love for Modern Architecture: clean lines and timeless shapes, to create “fashion that will stand the test of time”. But also by the rich and electric woven fabric called Rabaal that I always design around and which is also the signature element of Fulani as a celebration of my African heritage. In this latest Collection, I have managed to blend traditional with modern elements to create a product designed with the active contemporary woman needs in mind. The Amy Collection offers a piece for every occasion and some pieces are versatile enough to take her from day tonight.
A55: What do you enjoy most about designing and developing a new collection?
SB: I really enjoy the whole design process; from the first mood board to the material selection and the final product. Once the product is out there it doesn’t belong to me anymore so I really value the moments when it’s just mine. Sometimes it’s hard to let go but you have to move on to the next collection. I create something from my heart for others to enjoy, that’s a very rewarding feeling.
‘One of the biggest challenges that young designers
face is to be able to define their Brand’s DNA and
develop their core product that they will build upon.’
A55: What was the biggest challenge you faced in creating the collection and how did you overcome it?
SB: The Amy Collection is my second Collection and everything went very smoothly. I’ve learned from the mistakes I made with my first Collection and I felt more confident during the entire process this time around. One of the biggest challenges that young designers face is to be able to define their Brand’s DNA and develop their core product that they will build upon. With this Collection, I believe I was able to do just that. I really had to think about where I want to see Fulani 5, 10 years from now, and create a strong collection that I can build upon. These are choices and decisions that you need to make early on and then spend the next 20 years implementing and developing them to expand your brand. Overall, I think it’s a great thing to be challenged because it forces you to think outside the box and even compromise with yourself. I have learned not to shy away from them.
A55: Do you have a particular favourite, and why?
SB: I love honestly love the entire collection because each bag is perfect for a specific occasion.
The Amy tote is very versatile, casual but very elegant and you can dress it up easily.
The Amy Hobo is the ideal city bag; it’s the perfect size bag with just enough room to carry your essentials.
The Amy Satchel is extra roomy to carry all your belongings, very practical for a weekend trip.
The Amy Drawstring is ever-evolving an iconic shape that will never go out of style.
The jewel box is the cutest evening bag, and the Amy wristlet trendy and super cool!
A55: What do your designs say about the woman you design for?
SB: They say here I am Unique, fabulous, and eclectic…and not afraid to set up my own trend.
A55: Do your designs give a glimpse into the personality of Souadou Barry?
SB: Very much so, I get my inspiration from the world around me, but in the end my designs reflect my own interpretation of what I see, feel, and love. When I create handbags whether or not it’s conscious,
the end product is always a reflection of my emotions driven by my experiences and my surroundings.
A55: Where is the collection available to buy?
SB: My collection is available online at www.fulanihb.com
Collection priced from USD$75-USD$395
Styles shown: top, Amy Drawstring; centre, Amy Wristlet; bottom, Amy Satchel and Amy Drawstring Group
[Image credits: All images shown belong to Souadou Barry, and if downloaded and used elsewhere must be credited accordingly]