Medea: Small Bags for Powerful Women

Camilla and Giulia Venturini aren’t your average designers. Hailing from the Garda region in the north of Italy, the 31-year-old design duo (and twin sisters) have recently risen to popularity due to the launch of their increasingly visible Instagram-friendly Medea bags.

Counting Rihanna, Petra Collins, Dev Hynes, and Kaia Gerber as fans of the brand, the bags have been spotted on the arms of everyone and have been defined by many as the new ‘it’ item to have of late.

Yet, other than the striking art direction and clever branding that accompany it (the name itself is a reference to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s remake of the ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides starring Maria Callas), what makes the Medea bag very interesting is the quick sprout in popularity it has had since it launched, a mere year and a half ago.

Born as a provocation, the idea behind the bag came as a way of taking an everyday item such as a paper bag and transforming it into a sophisticated luxury piece, by re-modelling it using prime Made in Italy materials such as calfskin and suede.

“We both come from non-fashion backgrounds, having worked in the worlds of art and photography,” said Camilla. “The immediate success of the bag came as a surprise to us, as the project itself was initially born as a vehicle for us to work with the people we love on creative projects.”

Cases like these are rare, as nowadays many brands rely heavily on digital marketing strategies in order to boost their products and create buzz around it.

Building a community of collaborators which can help tell and expand your story is a brand’s most important asset, and Giulia and Camilla know it, which is where the success of their brand lies. They have managed to build a strong community for their brand, not by using a product-seeding strategy which targets influencers, but rather by gifting a few pieces from their first collection to the people they admire and love.

Whilst product seeding can certainly help propel an item into the ‘must-have’ stratosphere, it can also have a countereffect, turning an item into a seemingly over-marketed product.

“We really don’t like the word ‘it’ bag, as it implies that the item will have a short span of life and then will disappear,” said Giulia. “We wanted it to become an everyday object to keep forever.”

Still, it is indeed this approach to detail and the idea that the bag you are buying should be an item that will be part of your wardrobe for a very long time that has pushed the duo to be vocal about the exaggerated and careless speed of the fashion cycle.

“The industry is producing too much and too quickly. We want to try to educate our buyers and consumers on the idea that a bag shouldn’t be seasonal – but just like a design object, something you can order from a catalogue and use until it wears out,” said Camilla.

It comes as no surprise that the sisters have, since their launch, ventured on a series of collaborations with artists and photographers for the release of a limited-edition collectable collection, featuring firstly photographer Nan Goldin and then, most recently, pop artist Judith Bernstein.

Undeniably, Camilla and Giulia are attracted to powerful, creative women who’ve always had problems establishing themselves, from the mythological sorceress who happens to be their brand namesake to Maria Callas who impersonated her in Pasolini’s 1969 movie, to Goldin and Bernstein who have had difficulty bringing forth their messages when they first started.

“We find it hard to think of making a bag with someone who makes art just for the sake of it. It is important for us to collaborate with artists who share our same vision and communicate powerful messages through their work,” said Giulia.

Communicating a powerful message through their work (and especially the imagery that accompanies) is salient to the duo, who have big plans for the future of their brand, starting with expanding the selection of products to other accessories as well, including cardholders and, most recently, lipstick holders.

Collaborating on the visuals which will promote the launch of their new line of lipstick holders is London-based designer and creative director Harry Freegard, known on the web as Harrie Bradshaw.

“The objects themselves are very modern and chic, yet what we wanted to do was showcase our ideal of beauty, and we love the way Freegard applies makeup and his work in general, so we thought he’d be perfect,” said Camilla.

We have no doubt it will be a must-have.

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