Design innovation bags success for textile graduates

The Llana design tote bag that is receiving pledges from customers opting to pay in advance online.

It’s called Llana, and with the help of an innovative New Zealand technology called Wool Fresh, has the potential to be the final answer in women’s design bag accessories.

The tote bag, designed for women with a New York City sensibility, is versatile enough to carry gear as diverse as gym equipment, shoes and laptop without losing shape, thanks to a newly developed fabric designed with support from design students at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts.

The odour absorbent Wool Fresh fabric is natural, breathable, anti-microbial and self-cleaning. It is already earning plaudits via crowd funding having raised more than $30,000 of a $50,000 target to help bankroll the manufacture, production and marketing of the revolutionary tote bag.

Master of Design graduates Amy Blackmore, Annabelle Fitzgerald and Avara Moody completed work with an Auckland leather goods business to begin the manufacturing process. The Llana bag features an outer layer of premium New Zealand deer skin.

Textile design associate professor Dr Sandra Heffernan says the inner fabric, developed by scientists at AgResearch and Texus Fibre engineers with the graduates’ help, acts as a filter to keep belongings dry and fresh inside the bag.

“It also helps the leather age gracefully because it has antimicrobial properties to reduce bacteria growth. Wool Fresh is resilient, durable and easy to care for.”

Currently the bag is only available for retail sale online but the record response to the crowd funding campaign, with US $38,966 (about $NZ54,750) raised will help realise further plans toward its manufacture, marketing and commercialisation, she says.

“The unique project team of design students, scientists, engineers and a Harvard MBA entrepreneur continues to expand as the project progresses.”

College staff involved with the project also include fashion design programme leader Sue Prescott and School of Design assistant head Matthjis Siljee.

For Amy, the project was an insight into the value of collaboration. "If I was advising someone interested in studying design I would say to incorporate wider ideas as much as possible. Studying at Massey you learn more from your cohort than anything else, so work openly to craft ideas collaboratively."


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