The Irrawaddy

Handmade Myanmar Bags with a Bohemian Style

Nowadays, people pay close attention to their fashion choices. Some choose flashy brand names, while others focus on unique handmade items.

Handmade goods are often produced in limited quantities, making them even more special.

Many local brands have popped up that produce shoes, bags and clothing, among other things. One such brand called Zoey has become a hit with youth as well as celebrities.

A handmade Zoey bag. / Supplied

Zoey is a collection of handmade bags with a bohemian influence created by local designer Ma Pont.

“Actually, ‘Zoey’ was my oldest daughter’s idea and I began this brand as a gift for her fourteenth birthday,” said Ma Pont, adding that she named the brand after her daughter.

Zoey, 14, is also interested in making her own styles and creations and is particularly interested in bags as well.

One day, she told her mom that all of her brand name bags were too heavy and difficult to carry.

The hope to create a lightweight bag was the spark that led to Zoey designs.

A girl sports a small Zoey backpack. / Supplied

Her mom started tinkering and was drawn to the bohemian style, which allowed her to experiment with color. She used traditional Burmese textile patterns but mixed them creatively.

The mother-daughter pair discussed the designs at the beginning.

“At first, this wasn’t going to be a business; I was just going to give the bags to my daughter’s friends,” Ma Pont said.

Some of Ma Pont’s friends are popular actresses and the Zoey brand received a lot of attention after they carried her bags. Then, the items got noticed on social media and grew in popularity.

Ma Pont used the feedback she received on the initial bags, which was overwhelmingly positive, and went ahead to design and produce more styles.

Zoey by designer Ma Pont in Paris. / Supplied

‘Zoey’ was started in October 2017 and all of the bags are still sewn by hand. The brand is a mix of quality traditional textiles and colorful bohemian themes.

Ma Pont also has her own design brand called ‘My Favorite Collection,’ mostly creating wedding dresses and other dresses for local celebrities.

Zoey doesn’t maintain a large inventory. Only a small quantity of bags are produced to maintain quality,” Ma Pont said.

Customers can make suggestions as to designs, colors and materials that they’d like, and Zoey will either create something or match them with something that fits the customers’ wants.

Zoey has many types of bags available including totes, slings, backpacks and clutches. The styles are versatile and women, men, and children are seen wearing them.

The prices range from 35,000-50,000 kyats or more for custom orders.

Zoey does not yet have a brick and mortar location but designs and information can be found on the Facebook page Zoey by designermapont.