Designer Roanne Jacobson from Saben. Image supplied.
New Zealand women have been carrying Saben‘s stylish leather bags and accessories since 1998 and designer Roanne Jacobson’s beloved brand continues to win new fans every season. Each piece is carefully designed to be as functional as it is beautiful, with playful touches that reflect Roanne’s unique sense of style. Saben’s bags are all hand-crafted using textured leathers and rigorously tested to meet the designer’s high standards as she wants each Saben piece to be one that is kept and treasured.
We caught up with Roanne to find out more about her brand, what the process of making Saben bags is like and her top picks for the new season.
Where did the name Saben come from and what principles inform your designs?
I come from a long line of stylish and fiercely independent women who relish in the art of dressing. I have memories of watching my grandmother, and the brand’s namesake, Sarah Saben, artfully edit her ensemble to reflect the demands of the day.
The Saben philosophy is to use beautiful textured leathers coupled with demure elegance and intuitively functional design, to make pieces that imbue quiet authority. Styles are batch created in exclusive numbers and are of premium quality, ensuring longevity not only in fabrication but also in style.
How does your personal style influence your designs?
My personal style is obsessive. I will become fixated on style of dressing and it will take over my wardrobe or if it is a creative concept for an accessory I can’t rest until I feel it has been resolved.
Saben’s Kara backpack (left) and Gita bag (right).
How long does the process of creating a Saben bag generally take from when you come up with the idea to it arriving in store?
Sometimes it feels like years! It is really about the sampling, sometimes when the magic happens we can nail it straight off the bat, other times a design needs tweaks and changes, re-sampling, a wear-test, and more tweaks ‘til it is just right. So a great run may see the process take three months but a slow burner might be re-sampled a few times, and perhaps reconsidered with each new collection but not making the final edit for a year or so.
How does your design process work when creating a new range?
I am constantly inspired, by art, music, fashion, technology and of course by the women who wear our bags. Taking into account macro and microcosmic trends, colours, what our customers are responding to but also pushing boundaries and translating a story or interpreting a concept into the collection is always fun! So, we will create a visual mood board, a hit list of new shapes, get sourcing for textures, new colours and fittings, and then pull it all in together.
What testing is involved to make sure you’re happy with a new design and how it performs?
You can’t beat the ol’ wear test. I have to wear it, use it. Sometimes it proves looking good is the easy part – making sure the bags functionality performs is where the details can get nitty. But I love the challenges in that!
Mae bag (left) and Matilda Holographic bag (right).
How does your production process work and how hands on are you with the process these days?
Always hands on! I don’t think I will ever fully step back from that. Usually whilst I am working on the sample collection for the next range the current range production is ready for quality control. But when I am not on the ground, we have a fabulous agent triple checking on our behalf, we speak/Skype daily.
What would customers be surprised to know about what goes into making Saben’s products?
Aaaahhh, how many cups of coffee would go in to the process?! EVERYTHING is done with deliberate intent. We like to be playful with our pieces, but at the end of the day – they need to work for our customers, and empower them to rule the day.
What are your top five picks from your new collection?
KARA – you have seen our backpack right? Casual-cool at its finest.
GITA – the gorgeous bubble texture is so dreamy, AND it is NZ leather.
MAE – this saddle shape is a must add to your accessories portfolio.
MATILDA HOLOGRAPHIC – make like a modern day mermaid with this gorgeous two-tone finish, both mushroom and green.
TILLY with a STRAP – as if this highly coveted stunner could get any more practical!
Saben’s Tilly bag with a strap.