By Fiona Ward
It’s not often that the co-founders of an accessories brand combine expertise in fashion and science, but those are the disciplines that came together between Zi Xuan and Yijia Wang when they thought up their handbag line, Advene.
Both come from a design background, though Yijia specialises in quantitative economics, data science and marketing analytics – while Zi previously worked as a handbag designer for Marc Jacobs and Coach – so when the pair went into business, they were focused on creating handbags that give the customer exactly what they want, with the facts to back it up.
They found that consumers often have to compromise between price, style and sustainability, so set out to create handbags that truly ticked every box – with a totally transparent and ethical production process and unique, fashion-forward designs (at a mid-luxury price point).
The result was their first ever launch, in 2021: the ‘Age’ bag, a top-handle pouch bag which was promptly carried on the arm of Hailey Bieber and various fashion influencers, loved for both its practicality and chic design.
Impressively, Advene is seriously transparent about its production line. The brand uses 100% traceable leathers crafted in a tannery certified gold-standard by the Leather Working Group, meaning it has scored highly in practices relating to environmental and ethical production. All leathers are byproducts of the food industry.
Sustainability Without Compromise
The founders have also opted out of plastic fillers in the linings of their handbags, instead choosing to put the time into creating self-supporting designs using raw materials such as leather or suede.
Zi and Yijia spoke to Fashion Week Daily about their commitment to sustainability in 2021, saying: “We visited dozens of suppliers, ranging from tanneries and bag manufacturers to textile labs and hemp farms. Through countless conversations, prototypes, and lab tests, we developed intimate relationships with several production partners who wanted to solve the problems with us.
“By engaging them every step of the way, from ideation through production, we are able to not only track and monitor the social, environmental, and human impact of each bag, but also challenge the traditional ways of material sourcing, construction, and development to reimagine how modern handbags can be.”
Since the launch of the ‘Age’ bag, Advene has launched three more designs – though it will only introduce one item at a time, in order to stay committed to its eco principles.
The shoulder-slung and sharp ‘Edge’ bag has been another hit, and a favourite of Kendall Jenner’s as well as a number of fashion editors. “It differs from the Age, which is more feminine,” Zi once told Reside magazine. “The Edge is much cooler, more unisex.”
As for what’s next for the brand, no doubt it will slowly launch more design-led handbags that are made to last, though we may also get a few surprises from Advene.
“In five years, based on our current pace, I think you will see a full line of handbags and small projects, tactile objects, and also potentially some key pieces for ready to wear, or maybe collaborations with furniture,” Zi also told Reside. “Things that we can apply our design philosophy to, and then you can enjoy it in your everyday life.”