Meet Andres! Hailing from Colombia, he designed his own bag label for eight years before coming to LeSportsac. Since 2010, Andres has single-handedly designed the LeSportsac Men’s Collection, as well as acting as a contributing designer to our Artist collaborations and special collections.
What you may not know is that he has no formal training in accessories or fashion design – with an MA in architecture, Andres started his career working in one of the world’s most acclaimed architecture firms in Seattle. We decided to sit down with him for a Q&A to learn more about the incredible talent behind this emerging line!
How did you get into designing bags?
A: I was an architect working in Seattle right after I finished my Master’s, until 2001 and I moved back to Colombia. That was when I first started designing bags – my wife and I decided to create a line of bags that were completely reversible, and it really took off within the course of a few years. Within a year we went from one store to eight, and by 2006 we opened a showroom and had shown at major international design trade-shows like Bread and Butter.
All the production was in the town I lived in – it felt really good to work within the community, to make a bit of difference. We explored a lot of local or upcycled materials, like tubes from old bikes, used bags from rice from the local village. We employed exclusively in our community. It became a really close knit company.
The whole opportunity exposed me to learning how to design and produce a bag from scratch – from sketch, how to work with a print, how to do the technical parts like sewing and construction so that I knew exactly how it should turn out.
How was a background in architecture helpful?
Architecture and bag design are actually really similar. You have to be honest with materials; you cannot fake masonry, and materials have qualities and you have to stay true to that nature.
They both work with a human scale, with how you move. They both struggle with proportions, with colors and shapes.
You design several collections for LeSportsac – how do you approach Men’s, which you have pretty broad control over, versus collections that are collaborative like Artist In Residence and special collections?
With Men’s, I had to stay true to the LeSportsac DNA. Prints, in light nylon, but updated for men’s relevance and to be contemporary. So I took it as boundary-less. I tried to explore all the potentials of ripstop. It is an amazing material, it can be photoreal, solid, print, whatever you want it to be. I particularly enjoy the layering aspect of it. I like prints that look washed and a bit worn, bags that look like there’s history, it’s uncrisp, there’s depth. You can’t do that with cotton.
The use of nylon fabric is utilitarian, and we’re expanding now to explore coated canvas, denim but to keep it lightweight. For all our bags, it has to be smart.
This is a New York based brand, so the collection has urban themes. Living in Brooklyn really helps. This city – i mean just riding in the subway you see people with high skills, high standards and incredible creativity. New York really is a special city. It’s the capital of the world.
For Artist In Residence – I initially thought that designing with existing artist works would be rigid, but there’s a lot of freedom. The Artist In Residence Collection itself is urban, natural, sweet. We use a lot more metals, as opposed to plastic, there’s a natural element to it. When you work on collaborations, there’s room for input in the design. The most challenging is taking 2D designs and building it into 3D, converting it into a real object.
What is it that makes these collections special?
I love the storytelling. It adds value to the brand by understanding the world through the characters, and its a story people of all ages can relate to.
Storytelling, for me, is the great part of being an artist and designer.
You can see more of Andres’ work in the Men’s Collection and special collections at LeSportsac.com.