In collaboration with Ashya, a young accessories brand founded by American/Jamaican duo Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece, Michael Kors is today launching two exclusive, limited-edition bags: the Moya Multibag and the Ashley Bolo Bag.
The collaboration was a way for Kors to celebrate his 40th anniversary by supporting the future of the fashion industry. He decided to provide an opportunity to an emerging brand by offering them the global reach, distribution and platform of the Kors company to help bring their brand to a larger audience.
The collection will be available globally at Michael Kors Lifestyle stores and in its digital flagships.
Established in 2017, Ashya features unisex travel accessories. The label was a recipient of the 2018-2019 Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. and Accessories Council Elaine Gold Launch Pad Fellowship.
Kors said he wanted to share his personal advice and experience, as well as the mentorship of his team. The decision to collaborate with Ashya was a natural choice since the brand is inspired by travel, is dedicated to style and pragmatism, and helmed by two talented and entrepreneurial designers.
“I’d been following them, and I knew and admired their work,” Kors told WWD. “It’s sophisticated and smart. We reached out to learn more and I met with Ashley and Moya and we just clicked. I liked their unique point of view, how thoughtful they are about their work, and their focus on craftsmanship and utility. We found a lot of common ground: an appreciation for pared-down luxury, a passion for travel, and of course, a love of New York City.”
Asked whether it’s a one-season deal or an ongoing collaboration, Kors said the original idea was to do it for one season only, as a special commemoration tied to his 40th anniversary and a celebration of New York talent. “Fashion is always about what’s next so let’s see what the future holds,” he said.
“Anniversaries make you think about both the past and the future,” continued Kors. “I began my business in New York City in 1981, and now I find it very exciting to be able to turn the spotlight on the next generation of designers working here in New York City. Kors said that one of the most exciting ways to mark his milestone would be to celebrate a brand that is trying to do now what he set out to do in 1981.
Discussing how much input he personally had in the design, Kors said, “The primary aim was to shine a light on Ashya, so I was thrilled to work with their very distinctive silhouettes. We asked them for ideas that incorporated our Michael Kors Signature logo print. They brought the idea of West African textiles to the table and then created the print you see on the bags. It’s called Saga signature and I think it’s gorgeous. From there, we worked together through protos, refining the details, and our teams worked together to build out all the elements that go into a fashion collaboration, from the samples to the photo shoot to the PR and social media content and strategy.”
The gender neutral, leather Ashya x Michael Kors bags feature a custom print that incorporates the MK Signature logo print in a new pattern inspired by West African weaving techniques.
Kors said he’s never worked with West African weaving before. “That element came from Ashley and Moya. I love it,” the designer said.
The Moya multibag, which retails for $498, can be worn as a crossbody or a belt bag. It features two lined pockets, each featuring a leather card sleeve and a roomy interior. The Ashley Bolo bag, which retails for $298, can be worn around the neck, the waist or crossbody. It features one lined compartment with a leather card sleeve.
Discussing their design process, Cimone said, “The experience of working with Michael Kors was an honor, bringing to life a shared vision with such an influential designer. The design process was effortless, often playful and quite seamless. When introduced, Michael was extremely gracious and trusting, which gave us space to design freely.” She added that Ashya is a very small company at a much different phase in their journey, but the process of developing the designs “was surprisingly not very different at all.”
“The differences lie in the size of our teams and the amount of support that was present from Michael Kors’ side throughout the product development process and through to this point of launching. The similarities of our product development process reinforced that our business practices are very scalable, but on the marketing side there’s a machine. It’s been a privilege to see behind the curtain. What we look forward to is growth and bringing more talent onto our team to support us on this journey as designers and storytellers,” added Cimone.
According to Annece, the collaboration process was “intimate and effortless,” and their favorite part of the process. “We shared ideas of our approach, there was a lot of trust and appreciation for our design sensibilities. Michael Kors was very open and decisive in his vision. The experience was quite surreal,” said Annece.
As for the significance of the colors, pattern and decorative elements, Cimone said they wanted to create everyday classics rather than seasonal bags that might seem to have an expiration date. “We design for longevity and wanted to be introduced to the Michael Kors community through practical yet playful designs that were ageless, genderless and timeless. Black and brown are staple colors in everyone’s closet, so we began there, narrowing down the materials presented to us, which included the MK signature print leather.”
Cimone noted that as part of the process, they developed a brown leather with the Kors team that felt rich and mature. While designing the Saga Signature print, they thought to create a print that would add emotional value and significance to the bags, a symbol of the milestone they were celebrating for both brands — for Kors reaching the 40th anniversary of the collection and for them, being offered the world’s stage, and they referenced the line work and use of shapes within the West African weaving. “Textiles have been used historically as a means of communicating and storytelling, as we reference storytelling as a means for cultural preservation in our own work as designer, we want to look at this collaboration through that same lens, giving new life to shapes that were identifiable to our brand, while also celebrating Michael Kors,” said Cimone.
Annece said this collaboration would be considered their first official global launch. As an emerging brand, their main focus has been to grow and fortify their business on a national scale. “As a self-funded designer label, a collaboration of this magnitude, which launches in North America, Europe, Asia and African markets is far beyond what we imagined in 2021, before we were initially approached. As far as our brand’s recognition, this global exposure we hope will significantly propel our growth as a company,” said Annece.
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