Yegang Yoo never intended to launch a handbag line. The South Korean-born, Brooklyn-based designer, who has worked with the likes of Hussein Chalayan and Rachel Comey, created her ready-to-wear label, IMAGO-A, in 2011, and she was perfectly happy sculpting bold, printed jersey dresses and angular sweaters. But then one day she found herself with a bunch of really rad leather on her hands.
“It was this calfskin printed with metallic silver so it had this mirrored effect,” recalls Yegang. “I contacted everyone who stocks leather in the city—old contacts, anyone I could find—to get this leather. And then when I got it, it was too stiff to use in the clothes!” So she began playing with the material, folding it in different ways. “I was trying to achieve these geometric surfaces to reflect the light at different angles, and it kind of evolved into a handbag.”
In less than a year, her one experiment expanded into an entire line—think city-friendly, origami-esque purses and totes in bright blue and red leather with braided straps. This sort of improvisational openness guides pretty much everything Yegang does, from becoming a designer (she abandoned her childhood architecture ambitions after seeing a Comme des Garçons dress in Vogue) to making patterns part-time for her friends at Vena Cava after graduating Parsons—so she could play keyboards in a band, where, by the way, she met her husband. As she says, “I’m about trying all these different things to see what works, and letting the design come out of that.” —raquel laneri
BEHIND THE SCENES
For this designer, getting her hands dirty is half the fun.
Here, the designer Yegang Yoo shows us how it’s done.