“I've always loved little keepsakes and I am a bit of a hoarder,” admits Brenda Harvey, the woman behind accessories label Benah. “I think my nomadic gathering instincts just lent themselves more to accessories than anything else.”
From slim designed leather belts, vintage-inspired patchwork bags and printed silk scarves, Benah's modern use of quality materials is indicative of Brenda's knowledge of what Australian consumers want. Leather goods are made entirely in Australia, while the cashmere the label uses comes directly from Mongolia where weavers only deal with cashmere yarn. It's a lesson in precision, attention to detail and quality control – a standard that can be hard to locate within current Australian accessory labels.
Boasting a background in garment production and the less glamorous, business side of things, Brenda's knowledge of the industry and ability to develop long-lasting relationships led her to branch out on her own and take her love of accessories to a whole new level. “It was also something I could start small and build from whist still being able to enter at a certain level of quality. Benah is my first foray into design.”
Since launching in her hometown of Sydney, the label has grown from strength to strength, striking a chord with those on the tiresome search for the perfect bag, scarf or belt to fit seamlessly within their daily wardrobe rotation.
This winter Benah celebrates its forth collection, You Promised Me. Much like previous seasons, the range's inspiration is based around emotions and questions the idea that life can be nothing but a “patchwork of expectations and promises”. It's an evocative subject matter, which begged me to ask Brenda about her own personal path when designing, and how much of herself can be found within the pieces.
“When I am designing, what I am feeling and experiencing at that moment in time has a lot to do with what my output will end up looking like,” she says. “The ideas and themes behind the collections often come from philosophy, the environment and the human condition. We are such complex yet simple beings; I find this fascinating. When you are creating something to put out into the world, you cannot help but put a little bit of yourself into it. It is what gives each piece a story and a soul.”
The collection's campaign, shot by Ben Briand, features dark images of lonely girls hibernating in hotel rooms, hiding from the world in printed head scarves, beanies and sleek leather bags. There's an underlying feel of erotica to it, with the images depicting the seductive-to-touch textures found within Benah's collection.
“I am a very tactile person and believe touch is such an important sense. I love the feeling of quality and luxurious yarns such as cashmere, soft silks and leathers. It's the little things that really make a difference to the finish of an item.”
It's these differences that allow Benah to stand out from the pack – in the most stylish way possible of course.