Founded by former industrial and graphic designer Samantha Rogers (née Duzenman), Australian label Du Zen! handcrafts high-quality leather bags locally in Melbourne, some of which come in unusual but wearable colorways. The brand also ignores traditional industry seasons and releases products according to their own schedule. With a focus on deconstructed styles, super-simple shapes and lots of nude hues, the brand launched in 2015 after years and years of research and development. From belt-bags (aka fanny-packs) to totes, clutches and backpacks, just about every type of bag style is covered by the brand—and has been since the beginning.
Their most recent release, the Sushi Roll crossbody bag, is beautifully light on branding. Rogers spent a lot of time deciding on where to put her label, since she didn’t want to compromise the entire look. She tells us, about the pragmatic approach to the Sushi Roll, “I wanted to make a simple, no-fuss crossbody bag that could carry basic essentials. It had to be able complement any outfit without screaming for attention or getting in the way when one is galavanting around town.”
As will all the bags, black is a stalwart, but there are lush plums, rich greens, metallics and dusty pinks all thrown in for good measure. Some of the colorways clash in an appealing way, and all of them balance both heavy and light. Rogers says of the Sushi Roll Bag specifically, “The colorways are simple but sharp and super-practical because it’s the sort of bag that can seamlessly carry you over from day to night… and back again. Black and tan are the tried and true when it comes to bags—and green is the new black! We found people went nuts for the Forest Green we used it on previous products. It’s a new staple color.”
The balance of quality and price also sets the brand apart. These bags are made from high-quality leather and hardware (which Rogers says must be functional but minimal, yet still a design feature) but they also happen to be reasonably priced. Balancing the design, manufacturing, costs and functionality is problem-solving for Rogers, but she says most solutions come from trial and error and simply rethinking conventional approaches to design.
While Du Zen! will continue releasing collections and single items whenever they see fit, the products are sure to keep evolving. “The industrial designer in me is already looking toward other materials,” Rogers says. “So always, there will be elements of leather since that’s our roots, but we’re definitely looking at other materials for hardware and beyond.”
Peruse the Du Zen! collection of leather goods online, where the Sushi Roll crossbody is now available for $250 AUD.
Images courtesy of Du Zen!