Interview with Vancouver-based Accessories Designer, Andrea Wong
WHO ARE YOU?
My name is Andrea, the designer and maker behind the line AW by Andrea Wong based in Vancouver, BC.
WHAT DO YOU CREATE?
I create a line of tote bags, handbags and other small leather goods inspired by the Pacific North West.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOOLS & PROCESSES?
The tools I use the most are my Juki single needle industrial sewing machine, a selection of leather hand working tools, a mallet, and a rotary cutter. I am so excited to set up my newest studio addition - a German made Alder cylinder walking-foot sewing machine. It will allow me to change the way I design, and it will step up my leather bag game!
All AW items are made in my Vancouver studio, in small runs. The small runs allow us to take care in each item’s detail work, and assure quality. Some items become a real labour of love, but I do value everything being made locally.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
The incredible environment and the endless views of the Pacific North West inspire me. In the Winters I snowboard and in the Summers I camp and hike. I love to explore and lose myself in these supernatural surroundings.
WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PROCESS?
When I used to design clothing I would do a lot of hand/computer sketching. I approach accessories differently; I start with a rough sketch and move on to prototyping and sewing right away as the main part of my design process. I find this hands on approach much easier to determine proportions, design details and of course functionality. Also, I will know up front if it will be possible to reproduce this design easily, which is so important with a handmade business.
WHERE IS YOUR STUDIO?
I am located just outside Chinatown. It’s also quite near the seawall, so I end up doing a lot of small city deliveries and supply pick-ups on my bike.
WHEN ARE YOU MOST PRODUCTIVE?
During the holiday season all day and all night, but normally I am more productive mid-day.
WHY BAGS AND ACCESSORIES?
I want to design and create items people cherish, and use in their everyday life. I like the idea of making a small impact on the wearer’s life by making daily life a bit easier and better looking.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?
I started by designing clothing, for just over a decade, for the fashion industry in Europe and Canada. I eventually got disenchanted with fast fashion and how disposable clothing was becoming. I quit my corporate design job and spent the Summer clearing my head and thinking about what I valued in life. I wanted a better work life balance, which is difficult for me as someone that is very passionate about my design work. It made sense to me to bring both together, and that is how I started AW by Andrea Wong. It started with one bag; a couple key chains and co-organizing a holiday pop up shop. From there things organically grew and became the line you see now.