Exotic handbag designer Sang Im-Propp has garnered a lot of attention since launching her line in 2006. In addition to being one of three winners of the prestigious Samsung Fashion and Design fund in November of 2007, her handbags are oft seen on the arms of celebrities, editors, and socialites. Her well known River Bags have also made cameos in Gossip Girl and Lipstick Jungle. Although Im-Propp hails from Seoul and designs in her SoHo workspace, her bags are both sourced and created with exotic python, eel, ostrich, and alligator skins from France and Italy.
The trained modern dancer, former soap opera star, and 90’s Korean singing sensation got her start in design after relocating to New York City in 1998. While taking a break from recording her third album on a trip to New York, she decided to move to the city permanently. After taking drawing, fashion, and business strategy seminars at Parsons she interned with Victoria Bartlett (pre VPL) and assisted stylist Lisa Von Weise for a year before launching her own line.
Im-Propp stresses the highly efficient use of python skins in the newest bag to her already all-star lineup. Holding the tote bag up, she notes that careful construction helps keep the price down.
“I just developed this bag. It can be used everyday, but it’s still going to be in gorgeous python. It is very easy to wear and we did a very smart consumption for the skin so that the price will be less than some of my other styles,” said Im-Propp of the logic behind her new “Beat Up” bag, “You can actually put your laptop in it. It’s lightweight and you don’t feel bad about buying it.”
Her three new handbag styles for spring were inspired by a recent trip to Italy. The designer was fascinated by the locals at a vintage fair in Padova. She is also quick to add that she keenly observes people’s carry-on luggage at the airport. Many of the current shapes in her collection are a result of the beautiful vintage bags she has seen in terminals and baggage claims during her travels.
The “Pane” bag was inspired by early 19th century military soldiers carrying bread bags. The other two styles are the “Cine” bag, a rectangular doctor bag, and the “Mezzo”, a convertible tote that becomes a clutch when folded in half. This season Im-Propp has added a saturated royal blue, yellow, smoky white, and rustic grey to her broad color palette. Finishing touches, such as hand-waxed python or natural woven eel, can make every style a standout.
“Clothing is definitely next, a dress line. It’s going to be just like my handbags, the same aesthetic,” said Im-Propp of her plans to expand her line, “The modern classic will be there but with a dose of whimsy and avant garde, and some punk and rock and roll too. I love that touch of fun.”
Im-Propp shows no signs of slowing down. She also has a book slated for release in her native Korea in early 2009, plans for to collaborate with a fellow designer, and a capsule collection of evening clutches to design.