Born in Paris, the fashionable bag brand ASZPAK is known for its chic silhouette, bald color and clean design. Coming back with the Valentine’s special “Red Lipstick Bag”, the Dalí inspired baguette is ready to be the new “It-Bag” in your closet. Wanting to know more about the story behind the brand and its design, CAP 74024 invites the founder and designer of the brand, Alexandre, to have an intimate conversation with us.

Could you tell us more about ASZPAK? What’s the story behind the foundation of the brand?


ASZPAK is a contemporary leather goods brand based in Paris. The origin of the brand is inspired by my mother’s surname: SZPAK and the first letter of my first name, Alexandre.


We are inspired by the digital culture of the 2000’s with a twist. Currently, we offer two geometric bags shapes where the handles can be switched and extended. I wanted to allow my customers to choose their design while keeping a strong concept and the integrity of my leather goods.


Why do you want to focus on bag design?


I have a background as garment designer and I have been making made-to-measure for clients. Unfortunately, the arrival of the sanitary crisis stopped everything. I realized that I had always been fascinated by materials, whether technical or “lively” like leather. And I thought it was daring to continue to combine them in a different way, to create an “interplay of materials and textures. Something new and different happened with leather because it is a material associated with a real tradition and craftsmanship that immediately fascinated me. Twisting these codes to make a more pop and playful object allowed me to give leather goods a different look. I would like to continue to revisit a collection of classic leather objects and update them for people of my generation.


Matching the rope handle to the leather became my concept and my signature at the same time. Moreover, it was important for me to not create another brand in the landscape. In other words, I wanted a more reasoned and simple creation with a minimal impact on the environment. I try to fight at my level against waste and to promote short chains. The leathers I use are unsold from big companies that are destined to be destroyed and they have a traceability that I communicate to my customers.

What are your visions of ASZPAK?


I now perceive ASZPAK in a more international perspective because our experiences in department stores and our international retailers confirm that the brand is in demand. We had the incredible opportunity to sell our products at Printemps Haussmann and this was an important turning point in the development of the brands. I approached the creation of my brand in a very instinctive way and it was by starting to create it by myself that I found my brand identity. I wanted graphics, geometry, simplicity in the way of carrying a bag, but above all to define a creative vision that would stand out with a strong and committed product.


There are so many big fashion houses and niche brands designing fashionable, interesting and wanted bags. What are the traits that make ASZPAK stands out from others?


We distinguish ourselves from other brands because we prefer to work on permanent designs that are graphic and have a specific function. They are fashionable but always practical and functional. The design is permanent but the leathers change regularly because we have a limited sourcing. The goal is not to multiply a multitude of shapes but to focus on an iconic shape, a symbol and to play with the materials. I have noticed that each brand develops a symphony of symbols that allow it to be recognized in a blink of an eye and to differentiate itself. In this sense, ASZPAK’s symbolism consists of a leather base topped by a neon handle. The attention to material quality, the graphics and the pop colors are the starting points in the development of our collections.


Now let’s focus on your latest design, the Red Lipstick Bags (which also come in white…). Can you guide us through the design of it in details?


I wanted a red monochrome bag for Valentine’s Day! A warm bag that will highlight a winter silhouette. For this capsule I wanted to talk about love and sensuality through the color red but also to play with the curves of the bag that imitate red lips. Our bag is also available in white and soon in a large size.

We learnt that the inspiration of the Red Lipstick Bag actually came from Salvador Dalí’s surrealistic Mae West Lips Sofa, but what draws you to take this reference as an inspiration?


I started to get interested on this reference last summer. I was in Mexico City this summer and I had been impressed by the brightness of the colors of the city and the food. I think it was this that inspired me at first to focus on very intense and less folded colors. Then I went to an exhibition about surrealism in a museum downtown and I came across this sofa designed by Dalí. Reading about its design and history, I discovered that this sofa is a tribute to the mouth of Mae West. It is both a tribute to this powerful woman, and for me, an essential part of the design history. I was interested in playing with this symbol for an editorial and referring to it.


Do you often take inspiration from art and furniture design? What are other sources of inspiration you have?


Design and art – especially painting – are my primary sources of inspiration. Traveling allows me to be surprised, especially in terms of feelings. I think that yes, unconsciously or not, I am often inspired by the design of objects, it is often a starting point for a form or a boldness. I looked a lot at designers like Memphis design or Oki Sato.


Aside from the Mae West Lips Sofa, what are the other inspiration and references you have in your accessories design?


Shiro Kuramata’s designs such as the Progetti Compiuti chest of drawers and Charlotte Perriand’s boomerang desk are sources of inspiration, I like the way they question everyday objects and transform them into manifest and graphic pieces.

You mentioned about using deadstock leathers and recycled fabrics. In today’s world, many designers are doing so and sustainability is repetitive concept in many design. From your perspective, why is making eco-conscious design this important?


Eco-conscious design is important for me because it is now a real stance and awareness. Even if everyone tends to think that recovering excess materials and reusing them has become normal, we must remember that the storage areas where we pick up our materials, destined for mass destruction, is a consequence of an intensive production system. I do it and it is still not enough… that’s why we should democratize it all together! Our generation has the duty to do what is necessary and to use what exists, therefore it is important to shout it loud and strong!


The eco-consciousness does not stop at the supply side. It’s a matter of working with responsible materials but also of awakening a consciousness in design and production methods. Promoting short circuits is also something to think about, I make my bags in France, I get my supplies in France etc… We also have to be aware of how our bags are made, in what context and in what quantity. The goal is to create a movement and it is good news that things are moving in that direction.


We also limit our bag references and prefer to focus on one or two designs that work and incarnate the identity of the brand. I must admit that it is an easier exercise for leather goods because the bag goes through the trends more easily but this observation must also be infused in the ready-to-wear that until today continues to multiply the references, sizes and quantities despite the wishes of a more responsible sourcing.


What are the future plans for you ASZPAK?


We want to continue this dynamic and I believe that 2023 will be a great creative year with great business opportunities. We will be at Première Classe for the first time in March and we will exhibit our new designs. I would like to continue to rethink leather goods in a contemporary way and imagine new accessories. I simply dream of being able to continue to have the freedom that my profession allows me. To continue to transmit my energy and my ideas through my designs.

Photographer : Florian Cros (@floriangc_)

Stylist & Art Director: Léo Rouault (@leorouault)

Make-up : ThomyK (@thomykmakeup)

Nails : Magda S. (@nailsbymagda.s)

Models : Chris (@chrisilentus), Stas (@sslaventiy), Giuli (@giuli.pingitor), Kaba (@real_kaba), Binta, Bobby (@30337.6)

Interview by Yves Tsou