Since we last spoke with designer Sarah Law, she’s expanded her modern minimalist luxury backpack line KARA in very deliberately thought-out steps that emphasize individuality and functionality—rather than mindlessly churning out new designs to keep up with the grinding fashion calendar. So we were excited to preview her first-ever men’s capsule, aptly named KARA MAN, which features three silhouettes: a leather backpack, a leather duffle bag, and a combination ballistic nylon and leather laptop briefcase (prices range from $425-$750). It’s a culmination of the style and functionality requests men have specifically made to Law over the past four years, while prodding her to launch men’s bags. “Guys are surprisingly detailed and opinionated about bags!” she tells CH.
“When I first thought of making a men’s capsule, my dad came to mind. He has always been of one of the largest influences and role models in my life,” she continues. “My dad has always loved cars and when he was younger, he raced cars and motorcycles on the street in Hong Kong.”
“Coincidentally, the owner of the factory I work with now raced cars with my dad in the late ’60s. When I was starting KARA, I had gone from factory to factory and everyone turned me down. The last factory introduction meeting I went to, I randomly asked my dad if he would be interested in coming along and surprisingly, he said yes. At the meeting, I was trying to present my concept but I noticed that David, the factory owner, kept ignoring me and staring at my dad. All of a sudden, David interrupted me, turned to my dad and said, ‘I know you! 1968—we use to race cars in Kowloon City and the New Territories.’ They had lost touch for almost 40 years! After that realization, David ended up helping me out. He and my dad have become good friends again. Last year, they spent five days driving from Hong Kong to the Shanghai Formula 1 track together.”
Cars and racing are intrinsically tied to the DNA of KARA. “There was something about the bags, the imagery and the feeling I wanted to create that went back to my dad. ‘C’était un Rendez-Vous,’ a 1976 film by Claude Lelouch. Shot in a single take, the nine-minute film is of a driver grinding through Paris at breakneck speed in the early hours of the morning. That film contrasted with Wong Kar Wai’s ‘Fallen Angels’ were on my mind,” she says. “I wanted to create bags with a crisp sport quality and contrast them in photos with a rougher, nostalgic feel. Bringing everything together, I had the opportunity to shoot our campaign images at a super car garage in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong—along the streets where my dad used to race.”
Though the capsule is titled KARA MAN based on her concept and approach to the collection, Law firmly notes: “Ultimately, anyone can carry the bags. I use the backpack a lot because the interior neoprene sleeve fits a larger laptop and the leather weekender is one my absolute favorite styles since I travel often.”
KARA MAN is available online only at their webstore, starting September 25.
Images courtesy of KARA and Dan Regan