If you love something, set it free, or so the saying goes. Cami James and Nadia Napreychikov, the designers behind cult Melbourne label DI$COUNT, saw light in the logic. Last year they decided that the best way to fuel their creativity was to allow themselves to explore their own ideas. “Nadia and I both decided that taking on solo projects was a great way to breathe new life into the brand,” says James, who has just launched Cami XXX, a 20-piece range of sassy, bright-tasselled, hard-cased handbags. “It also gives us the freedom to explore areas that don't necessarily fit under the DI$COUNT umbrella.”
As with many labels, Cami XXX was born out of frustration. James, who grew up in Darwin and Adelaide but has lived in Melbourne for the past eight years, struggled to find affordable handbags that she liked. “A couple of years ago,” she says, “I made the love heart bag myself out of plastic folders, masking tape and a heap of neon hand-stitched kangaroo leather and fringing. It held up for a while but I always wished I could develop the idea into something polished. When I had some time off DI$COUNT, I decided to pursue the idea.”
The luggage-like pieces come in four styles: a backpack, love heart, rectangle and circle. James worked closely with an artisanal Bali workshop and oversaw the entire process. No one bag is the same, with each item being made from a different leather (which James picked up during trips to Japan and Indonesia as well as locally), while the linings are all hand-quilted.
Tumblr, knock-offs, advertising and still life photography are all a big source of inspiration for James. “The most exciting art and design can laugh at itself,” says the RMIT fashion graduate. “It's satirical, aware and self-referential. I like a loud-minimal aesthetic, so I tried to produce basic, solid shapes with electric colours and fabrications…I also just like the idea of carrying around a gigantic shiny love heart.”
Bags range from $279 to $479, and are available online here.