Canadian Designers Opelle & Warren Steven Scott Team Up on New Handbag Collection

Photography by Michael Alberstat.

Get that bag? Don’t mind if we do.

Fashion has had its fair share of cool designer partnering news lately, like Dries Van Noten and Christian LaCroix’s union for Van Noten’s glorious Spring 2020 collection. On the #shoplocal front, designer Amy Malcolm of the brand Opelle has launched a collection with fellow Toronto-based creative Warren Steven Scott; Scott’s recognizable ovoid shapes—found in his much-coveted earring designs—have been incorporated into an array of Malcolm’s sculptural bags including the petite Pochette and Roberta totes of varying sizes.

Photography by Michael Alberstat.

The pairing came about thanks to a mutual colleague, curator and designer Alexis Venerus, who has worked with both Malcolm and Scott in their studios. “I’d been hearing about Warren for years,” Malcolm says. “Alexis would come in with these amazing clothes and earrings, and he had made them.” Malcolm ordered pairs of Scott’s earrings for herself, and also noticed them cropping up in friend’s wardrobes as well. “What was awesome to me is that all of my girlfriends, all over Canada, had these earrings,” she says.

Opelle’s designs have featured handles in the past, but as Malcolm notes, being an independent designer means having to update ideas on the regular, but in feasible ways. “You have to look for creative opportunities to do something new and exciting without reinventing your core product,” she says. Opelle offers a selection of Scott’s earrings on its website, and the duo decided to take their relationship one step further by working on products together.

Photography by Michael Alberstat.

Scott notes that given the shapes his brand already works with, creating handles for Malcolm’s pieces was a natural fit. “The ovoid—which is the ‘mother’ shape of Western CoSalish design that I work with—when you look at it, you can see so many things that it could be. It already looks like a purse handle,” he says.

After enlarging and modifying the ovoid’s shape — “I had to adjust the width so it would be more suitable as a utility product,” he notes — and landing on the use of a seductive smoky acrylic that would be distinctive to the collaboration’s pieces, Malcolm and Scott were ready to share their creations with the world. “It was really exciting to hear somebody else’s ideas,” Malcolm says about the project. “You’re exposed to concepts that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own. And it’s also nice to connect with other designers—you’re giving each other a leg up.”

Photography by Michael Alberstat.

Scott and Malcolm have also noticed their customers pitching in to help support their work during the COVID-19 crisis by promoting them on their own social media channels. “I didn’t even have to post anything about supporting small business,” Scott says. And they hope this trend continues when we finally see the end of quarantine life. “Part of the opportunity here is that people can think more about where their dollars are going,” says Scott. “Not necessarily that they’re consuming, but where their money goes to.”

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