“Tote bags start to look a bit skanky,” says Oliver Tilsley, founder of Australian accessories label Flynn. “Sorry, shocking word. But it’s not something that you can always take from your desk into dinner.”

His solution? The Scrunchie.

The versatile, everyday bag can be worn two ways: open, or cinched with a leather drawstring to give it a more sculptural look for the evening.

Designed by Tilsley in Australia, the two-in-one accessory is made with a lightweight bonded nylon produced by heritage Italian manufacturer Society Limonta, located in Padua, some 30 minutes out of Venice. The textile giant, established in the late 19th century, counts luxury fashion houses Prada and Hermes among its high-profile clientele.

The small- and medium-sized totes come in black, olive, biscotti, copper, electric blue, khaki and sorbet, plus three prints. The core silhouettes are a change of pace for a label that previously obeyed fashion’s churning seasonal calendar.

Since 2013, the Melbourne handbag-and-small-leather-goods label has developed an international following. Flynn’s leather totes had been stocked in global retailers such as Tomorrowland, Harvey Nichols and Barneys New York. But the mounting pressure to produce something new each season forced Tilsley to reimagine the local label.

“In late 2019, I had a bit of a wig out to be honest,” he says. “[Companies] like Bloomingdale’s would come in, review the collection, want additional styles or backfill the collection with different silhouettes. And it just was getting a little bit exhausting.” So he took stock.

Tilsley says this happened at a time when the retail sector was changing. The beauty industry was gaining momentum and taking department-store floor space from accessories, and many bag brands had introduced custom embossing as a way to stay relevant.

The designer recognised that the contemporary handbag industry was always going to be dominated by high-end labels that dictate the trends, so he decided to instead focus on a core collection and launch this signature tote.

“Flynn is meant to be your first second choice,” he tells Broadsheet. “You still have that designer bag, or you might have a bag that you default to, but for that everyday running around, throwing your life [in] … we’re the go-to.

“I thought if we could go into an everyday silhouette, everyday materials, we could talk directly to the consumer rather than trying to allow the retailer to have that dialogue with them,” he says.

Unlike the leather bags of the label’s past, the new nylon styles are also easier to travel with. “A lot of the times the leather totes – just purely based on the structure – eat up a lot of space,” Tilsley explains. “But [the nylon] just reduces that carbon footprint completely, because it flat-packs into a box which is two-and-a-half centimetres high.”

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