Designer, musician and a wonderful personality. Meet Jas Sehmbi, the man behind the brand Jas MB London known worldwide. If you are a big admirer of these exclusive luxury leather bags, you would love the brand even more after reading this honest conversation between studio On Slowness and Jas himself.
How does the journey from the beginning to becoming an internationally known brand look like?
You have to be very lucky to be picked at a young age and also, you have to be just at the right time, at the right place. For me, it was in 2000. I was in Paris with the collection that nobody had seen in a distressed manner. I developed the bags with peculiar leathers and I just happened to be at the right place, under the right roof with the best store buyers around. Top stores bought my designs and that was the time when other people have started buying them too.
You have serious fans, some among celebrities. How do you feel about it?
Lots of celebrities carry my bags, such as David Beckham, Michael Fassbender, Naomi Watts… I could name so many people. But it is not so much who is carrying it, it is whether they enjoy carrying it. When you see those people carrying it over and over again, that means they like the product. Some of my customers are so passionate that they do not just buy one bag or two. They buy 10, 12 or even 15. Some customers even come a long way to visit the workshop, chatting with me and choosing their favourite leather. The customer who was here today, she is not from around the corner, she just travelled 150 kilometers. She came over because she has been so passionate about the brand, she has been buying for the last 12 years and she said she has been carrying nobody else’s bag but just ours.
What is the hardest and the best part of your job as a bag designer?
Nowadays, I would say sales and being with the right people is the hardest. Many people just think they are designers. The truth is, they just pick up ideas from somebody else easily via Internet. Copying jeopardises the design industry and kills originality. The days when I studied designing, there were not any websites. I never browse any magazines. Instead, I just sketch a collection which is born in my head. The best part comes, when I make up the first sample of a design. To me, it is almost like 9 months come quick in one hour. Like the moment of giving birth.
You had many collaborations and pioneering ideas. Which was your favourite project and why?
One of my favourites was a Louis Vuitton project in Japan. I created beautiful paintings on the inside of the bags, made from very special leathers. I think people rather use them as decorations than as bags, because on the inside the linings are actual paintings.
Do you have a memorable story of any of your creations?
I have made the biggest bag in the world - 4.2 meters long, 2.2 meters high and 1.6 meters wide. It was so giant that we managed to put 50 people inside. The idea was that anybody can write a message on the lining and we present them with a small gift. The bag travelled all over the world and came back, after which we took off the lining and created other bags from it.
Who do you think is the best influencer in fashion nowadays?
It is so difficult for me to point out one person. 8-10 years ago, people like Margiela or Carpe Diem used to create something very interesting and the passion was coming from that direction. Nowadays however lots of designers have moved on. Somebody else owns their brands so their influence has been pushed out.
Recently, what is the most inspiring design that you found?
I would go further, back to the last 8-10 years. The architects have become a lot more elaborating and the workmanship really inspired me. One of the inspirational buildings I saw was the Louis Vuitton Fondation in Paris. It is amazing. The elements fused together make it abstract but beautiful at the same time. It was built in Mahatma Gandhi street, just next to Mahatma Gandhi Institute by Frank Gehry, one of the top architects in America.
Do you have any advise to young designers and artists?
They should walk around to anywhere they want, with their eyes open, and as much as they can, with their brain cells open. We are born with billions of brain cells. We should open and use them because nobody is gonna do it for us. Keep your ears and your eyes open, as they are your main inspirational tools to see and hear what is out there. Do not look too deep for inspiration. 5-6 years ago I designed a whole collection based on a brick which I twisted, stretched, elongated… Like I said, inspiration is everywhere. It is about how we perceive it.