324 New york
A bag label you can make your own—literally.
Shot exclusively for PROFYLES by Sam Gold at Spring Place, New York.
Styled by Paul-Simon Djite
At 3:24 A.M. Bike Bayer was hit with a bolt of inspiration. With one glance at the clock she realized the name for her new bag label, and 324 New York was born. Created with a mix and match philosophy, the ethos of the label is simple: Purchase one shape with multiple assets, such as detachable pouches, handles, and straps, and update your bag whenever the feeling should strike.
Born from a desire to create a bag line that could be customizable according to your mood, 324 New York is the brainchild of Bike (pronounced BK) Bayer, an art director-slash-fashion aficionado who was tired of spending all her dollars on expensive handbags that fell apart after only a few seasons. With a penchant for bags, she spent hours searching for vintage shapes and chic options at accessible price points, but found the market lacking. What she wanted—a classic shape made from top quality materials that could receive a little update each season—didn’t exist. So, she set about creating one herself. “The goal is to let people get creative and try something new without a lot of risk—or money!—and not think too much about their 'nice things' when they are out there enjoying life,” says Bayer. “Like, if someone spilled something on your bag at the bar, you can replace the pouch later if you want.”
Born and raised in Istanbul, (a tattoo of the city’s skyline is etched onto her upper left arm) Bayer relocated to New York in 2008 to attend Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute for Communication Design with a focus on advertising and art direction. After graduating, she joined a boutique advertising agency, eventually working her way up to Associate Creative Director. She then found herself at a crossroads, and decided to forego a traditional nine to five career in favor of following her dream. “I was going through a lot of changes in my life, particularly figuring out what I wanted to next in my career,” reflects Bayer. “One day when I was doing a spring cleaning, I saw all this stuff I had just sitting in my closet, not getting any use. That's where the idea for the bags started to form. Rather than creating something static, I wanted to create something that could change and evolve with people, because our taste and needs change constantly.”
“These are luxury bags for people who define luxury as freedom and versatility, creativity and quality; rather than something monetary that defines your ‘status.'”
With no design or production experience behind her, she began with the basics, sketching a bag shape that was both practical and small enough to wear as both a top handle and across the body. “I started with no technical knowledge about accessory design, however I was able to pull from my general design education in terms of thinking in 3D and understanding materials, shapes and colors. Once I had an idea of what I wanted the first collection to look like, I went to Istanbul to start working on samples. Through luck and some coincidences I met my current manufacturer. I told him I knew what I wanted but had no idea how to make it, and he was kind enough to take the time to really teach me. I went in every morning and worked with him until we were happy with the samples and 324 New York was born. I am still learning something new every day, which is the best part.”
Bayer was also adamant that her bags be sourced and produced in Turkey. From the high quality leathers to the hardware, all 324 New York bags are made by local craftsman before being shipped to New York. “I've spent money on so many bags that just completely fall apart after one season and it’s always such a disappointment,” says Bayer. “Turkey has a developed leather industry and very talented craftsman who have been working with leather for generations. The quality of the bags is extremely important to me and producing in a small atelier in Istanbul really allows me to be hands on every step of the way. I know every single person who touches each piece, who hand stitches the details and hand paints the edges. There is something very beautiful about that human connection and creating something together."
Bayer’s chic designs are also incredibly timely. With customizable bags having a moment (Australian label Mon Purse is set to make over $10 million in revenue this year and Anya Hindmarch has begun offering customizable options), adding personal touches to your bag has never been more appealing. Where Bayer sets herself apart is through sleek, minimal design and cool accessories. Front pouches have magnetic closures and are available in exotic skins, and shoulder straps come with rock ‘n’ roll inspired silver grommets. “These are luxury bags for people who define luxury as freedom and versatility, creativity and quality rather than something monetary that defines your ‘status’,” says Bayer. Consider them well worth the investment.
With special thanks to Spring Place, New York.