How to make a smarter handbag? Eddie Borgo is geeking out over 3-D printing and industrial design
When Eddie Borgo decided to create handbags, the New York – based jewelry designer knew one element he wouldn’t incorporate: concial studs. It may come as a surprise that Borgo, who has specialized in edgy chic since founding his eponymous line seven years ago, isn’t giving his customer bags to match their pave cone bracelets—at this point, practically a wardrobe requirement for creative-industry types. But avoiding the obvious was Borgo’s goal. “I didn’t just want to cover them in cones and call it a say,” he says.
For Borgo, who studied art history at New York City’s Hunter College, inspiration comes from street culture and the ideology of the post punk movement as well as modern sculpture. For his new category debut, Borgo turned his attention to his grandmother’s pocketbook and the minimal yet futuristic aesthetic of midcentury American automobiles, specifically the Phantom Corsair, a long, sleek fastback coupe prototype built in 1938. His five multitasking styles include the Vic, a sleek metal minaudiere that can be carried in a removable leather cross-body sleeve during the day, and the Colt cross-body, which has multiple strap options that allow it to also function as a top handle bag or a clutch. “The idea was to create hybrids between attaché cases, portfolios, briefcases, and evening bags,” Borgo says. “You almost want to believe that they’re from the 1950s, but because of the attention to detail and the engineering, you know immediately that they’re not.”
Since he began drawing up plans for the bags two years ago, Borgo has attended a number of industrial-design conferences. “Everyone else there is from the biomedical field, or they create microchips,” the designer says with a chuckle. He’s also gone deep into 3-D printing, and sees his point of difference from more established accessory lines as the ability to do rapid prototyping. “Now I can realize something in a pencil sketch and hand it off to one of my designers to move it into a 3-D rendering,” Borgo says. “We have it printed overnight in our MakerBot machine and we’re able to try it out the next day.” It was through this new technology that the 38-year-old discovered that using aluminum in the bags’ hardware, rather than the traditional brass, made their weight so light as to be inconsequential—a good thing for the woman who carries her iPhone, tablet, wallet, keys, and lipstick with her almost all the time. (Borgo also made a sleek Lou compact, with room for all the necessities, to compliment the lineup.)
With an entry price of $990, the bags, which are crafted from rubber-finished Italian leather in muted colors (jet black, evergreen, blush pink, and a subtle gray-purple) and are being introduced at Ikram, Maxfield, and Forty Five Ten, are pricier than Borgo’s costume jewelry. But the designer says they’re intended for working women, like art consultant Bettina Prentice and filmmaker Liz Goldwyn, both loyal fans who have been with him since the start. And despite his protestations, the cone is there—sort of—in the shape of the bags feet and in the triangular cross sections of their handles. “My girl is the same,” Borgo says. “She’s just grown up a bit.”
Featuring the Eddie Borgo Handbag collection including designer portrait, Colt Crossbody in Blush and Lou Compact in Blonde.