News & Runway

INTERVIEW WITH BE INTHAVONG AND STEVE DUMAIN OF BE & D

I stopped dead in my tracks a few weeks ago when I was at Bloomingdale’s and spotted one of Be & D’s new Garbo Tote Bags in Khaki. Even in a sea of studs, the craftsmanship and design quality of this piece stood out. As soon as I picked up the bag and walked towards a nearby mirror, I was approached by a woman inquiring about where I had found the bag. While the Garbo bag – in its many iterations – might be Be & D’s most iconic bag, the New York-based label has a slew of covetable bags and shoes in their arsenal.

The Fashion Spot had the chance to ask Be Inthavong and Steve Dumain, co-founders/designers of Be & D, a few questions about their design process, their future plans, their collaboration with Doo.Ri, and more.

tFS: What made you go into business together?

Be & D: We had an energy together that was so strong that the business happened without us having a choice. The next thing we knew, we created the first bag together – the “Garbo”- and it had a kind of instant success and took on a life of it’s own, and helped us properly launch our brand.

tFS: To what do you attribute the massive success of the Garbo bag?

Be & D: It was the right moment at the right time…but we were told that hardware was over when we first launched with Bergdorf Goodman. I think like anything, if you really make something special and put your heart into it, people will notice it.

tFS: What made you discontinue and then re-launch the bag?

Be & D: There were so many copies of the bag and the look because of the celebrity attention we got that it started to cheapen the look and make it less special – we were tired of it.  We wanted a change.

tFS: Do you both collaborate on each and every bag and shoe?

Be & D: Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. We always ask each others opinions.

tFS: How did the partnership with Doo.Ri come about?

Be & D: We met thru a mutual friend who visited our showroom in Paris. We instantly had a mutual appreciation.

tFS: Was the design process a collaboration between all three of you?

Be & D: Yes – but working with Doo.Ri is so easy and organic. She has such a strong vision of her clothing that making the bags was simple.

tFS: How would you describe your customer?  

Be & D: She’s confident and independent in spirit with a bit or a lot of an edge, and passion for quality materials and craft.

tFS: 

What has been the biggest hurdle?

Be & D: Getting noticed while sitting amongst some of the biggest luxury accessory brands in the world.

tFS: What’s the most rewarding part of running your own business?

Be & D: You are truly responsible for your own destiny. Every success and difficulty is your doing. That feels good, in either case.

tFS: What celebrity are you dying to have wear your bag?

Be & D: Kate Moss supposedly owns one of the new Garbo bags – so we’ve heard – we wish she would show it off!

tFS: A number of your bags have stud details. What attracts you to the studs?

Be & D: We love the combinations of different materials to express different feelings. Beautiful hardware is a perfect compliment to super soft leathers. Like many artists and designers, we like a juxtaposition.

tFS: Do you ever think of expanding into apparel or other accessories?

Be & D: We’ve definitely always talked about all kinds of possibilities. Sunglasses are something we both love – and Steve has been collecting vintage glasses for many years  and has a big collection that I would love to use for inspiration. Clothing is how we actually started for 6 months before creating the Garbo bag, so there’s always the chance we’ll revisit it. The bag took up so much time that we instantly became an accessories brand.

tFS: Any plans to open your own boutique?

Be & D: Yes, yes, and yup!