At Green Pebbles we were delighted with the opportunity to interview Irina Bragin of Made of Carpet. Irina has cleverly brought up to date the carpet-bag concept creating a modern innovative design which is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and to the touch! The carpet bag has been transformed from practical to perfect through the careful sourcing of material and high quality finish.
Whilst maintaining her status as the only ‘carpet-bagger’ in Europe, Irina talks to us about the appeal of carpet-bags and her influences from British literary characters Miss Marple and Mary Poppins and her distaste for Primark!
Once upon a time… Well, actually just couple of years ago, I had seen a very precise image of a Victorian holdall and loved it so much that I decided I must have one just like that. However, my online research was very disappointing – no one in the whole of Europe made bags out of real carpet. This is when I spotted the Gap for Carpet Bags!
We love how you have taken something from the past and molded elements of the design to bring the features up to date in Modern Fashion –What is it that first interested you in the ‘Carpet bag’ concept?
The carpet bags are beautiful, aren’t they?
Leather bags are… slightly boring, I think. To be useful in a metropolitan environment, leather bags have to be dark in colour and strong. It is difficult to even imagine a light, soft and bright leather bag in London underground at peak hours – it will survive for only couple of weeks, if not days.
Carpet bag, in turn, is very strong and maintains a personality at the same time. It can be easily filled to its max and is also very easy to clean.
We can see how the designs for collections change with shape. Is it possible for the carpet to change with palette and texture dependant on the changing seasons?
The carpet I use is the real material of which is used for its initial purpose – to cover a floor and technology can make it quite difficult to vary styles and models. Many common bags can feature outside pockets, pleats etc but with carpet bags these features are not possible. However, the Oriental pattern of the carpet which I use I believe speaks for itself. Carpet bags do not really need that added decoration.
Furthermore, as we are in England we actually have only 2 seasons – it is either raining or it is not raining. Either way I am certain we can use the Carpet bag all year around, just like the Victorians did. Well, perhaps I would not take it to sandy beach.
What in your opinion makes Carpet bags different from any other bag-apart from the unique choice of material?
They are a pleasure to look at but also even more of a pleasure to touch! Remember that Teddy-bear from your childhood? It is the same feeling!
We see how you have taken your inspiration from the ‘Carpet-baggers’ of the Reconstruction area. What inspired you about this particular time in history?
American history is very contradictory and there is no way to find out who is right and who is wrong and I have no intention to judge.
What attracted my attention was the idea of “portable” bag-bed - the metal frame was removable and the bag became a bed. What a Great invention!
We have read how you have been influenced by English Literary characters like Miss Marple and Mary Poppins. What was it about the character of Mary Poppins which inspired your new collection?
Her magic abilities and the capacity of her bag!
Bags from my Victorian Collection are capacious – they are large tote and travel bags.
In my Merry Poppins Collection I succeeded in achieving that deceptive effect by creating a highly capacious but rather small looking bag – we have measured the bottom of the models Heirloom and Exquisite and an iPad can lay flat at the bottom. The wider Exquisite model has been measured by bottle of Champagne!
iPad and Champagne – do girls need anything else really?
You mention on your website how you create you bags for the modern romantic and elegant lady with a passion for haute couture and vintage paraphernalia. Who would you like to see wearing your designs?
Well… Everybody actually.
We have been seeing vintage making a comeback for a while now with vintage boutiques popping up all over Britain. What is it about vintage that makes it so popular?
Most of the vintage you can see today is actually a legacy from upper and upper-middle class. In my opinion, it gives that desirable feeling of luxury and high self-esteem.
With vintage clothing and design becoming increasingly popular in today’s fashion industry, are there any particular areas of fashion in history you would like to see brought back in to-days fashion market?
Well, I don’t believe in time machines! Nothing can come to us from different times and different routines without any change. My bags are good example of this.
There is the ‘granny-chic’ trend which I feel the new ‘Mary Poppins collection is perfectly suited. What is it about the fashion of brogues, blouses and big knits which makes it appealing?
Rebellion? Revolution? Comfort? To be honest, it is not my style.
What is your favourite trend at the moment?
At the moment and always – Christian Marie Marc Lacroix.
Is there any particular trend that you don’t like?
How do you source the carpets, which are used in the creations?
Oh, at the beginning it was a nightmare!
European carpet makers are, as it turned out part of the “old men’s club”. Most of them have no web presence at all. These people spend between 20-30 thousand Euros every year to exhibit in Hannover, yet do not bother to create a website from a free template!
The Rug must be deep-piled but light and bendable, give no fuzz and be very bright in colour… etc. I have spent nearly half year to sourcing carpets to get what I want!
Can you explain the process of the production of these bags?
Yes. Another nightmare!
Before we get to the required high quality, we had to make some alterations to the machines. We had to find trimmings that will work with carpets for example handles for models Torba and Torba Plus have been made from real yacht rope), rethink all design concept…
That is why the first official who I visited far before we have launched the first collection was an Intellectual Property attorney.
Are there any particular design features other than the carpet that you have chosen to keep when re-creating a modern carpet-bag?
The main thing – I have put the CARPET back in CARPET bag!
It seems like the main problem with carpet is that it is very difficult to sew to thick rugs. People started making “carpet” bags out of velvet, tapestry and even simple cloth that devalued them and deprived of their deserved glamour.
Are bags your main passion?
Well, sunbathing on Playa Jardin at North Tenerife is the second in the list.
Are you particularly interested in any other period in History, in reference to costume and style?
Personally I like Art-Deco and Art-Nuevo in general and in fashion Neo-Romanticism of 80-s.
How do you intend to take Carpet bags forward in the future?
I hope to be chosen for Bread and Butter Berlin for next season or one after – it is not easy to match their requirements.
Also I am working on a new collection but it is too early to talk about that.
Helen Fowler Helen@green-pebbles.com