Since he created Deadly Ponies in 2005, Liam Bowden has been reinventing his leather accessories label in incremental ways every season – but with the launch of its spring/summer 2023 collection today, the brand is ushering in a focused new direction that pays homage to its beginnings while looking to an even more sustainable future.

Named Carousel, the new collection features shades and finishes inspired by famous British artist Tracey Emin, who’s known for her autobiographical works that span a range of mediums including drawing and needlework, painting and sculpture, film and neon text signage.

There are new silhouettes, including the medium-sized zip-closure shoulder bag Mr Ferris Midi, and the Mr Bellboy Midi – a top-handled bag that’s large enough for a 13-inch laptop.

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And a range of fresh shades will be rolling out between now and November – the jellybean python, which seems to mimic undulating green and black static; summery pops of light neon green and saturated sky blue; and glossy ombre croc-effect leather fading from rich red to pale peach.

Since the pandemic, Bowden says the Deadly Ponies team have been streamlining their processes to drill down into the core of the brand and stay true to what makes it so popular – while making design tweaks that enhance every detail.

“Everything from the labels in the bags to the leather has had our eye on it,” Bowden tells Broadsheet.

Spending that time refining and tightening everything up has made his design process more considered, he says, and they’ve enjoyed breathing new life into existing silhouettes with new colours and finishes – like the Mr Bellboy, coming soon in that aforementioned ombre croc leather.

There’s also now a new matte finish on the label’s recyclable solid-brass hardware, which harks to Deadly Ponies’ classic chain detail, updated from the previous satin finish.

Bowden often incorporates artistic inspiration into his collections, and the starting point this time was a mood board that helped the team decipher which of Emin’s techniques they could incorporate into their bags.
The Mr Futon Midi and Mini, for example, will be released in September, with quilt-like stitching and puffy finishes inspired by the famous 1998 Emin work My Bed.

Spring/summer 2023 also builds on the brand’s successful foray into footwear, with the jellybean python now adorning the Alastor Boot and new shades of the Gansu Slide including navy and black, and vibrant Scuba Patent.

Alongside each new seasonal release, Bowden and the Deadly Ponies team are furthering their sustainability goals, with a B-Corp certification application currently in the works.

It’s a lengthy process that involves an even closer eye on each one of their processes. “What are the best leathers and the factories that we deal with? How can we refine that, streamline that, get a better product and then also work with them on our waste?” says Bowden. They’re constantly looking at ways to use leather offcuts. “But then, those off-cuts still create some waste – so it’s like, how can we then deal with that, with the goal being complete product management in terms of nothing going into waste.”

Last month at the Deadly Ponies office in Auckland they even had a pilot month where none of the staff were allowed to bring waste into work that couldn’t be recycled. “It was pretty frustrating for a while,” laughs Bowden, “and then after three weeks it was like ‘Oh, this is a lifestyle change you can totally do!’”

The first drop of Deadly Ponies spring/summer 2023 is available now, with more styles to come until November.