In a time where lockdown, quarantine and self-isolation has been prevalent in our vocabulary, have the accessories we used in our pre-COVID lives now become redundant? Heels that we would don to dance the night away are gathering dust within our wardrobes, and the costume jewellery once worn for special occasions hasn’t been touched in months. And while there was a brief interlude where normality seemed to exist again, the temporary reopening of society making up for the lost months of dressing up, who knows what’s right around the corner. So, what do we do with the bags we so proudly wore on our arms, when we have nowhere to go?

It’s a question that’s been plaguing the mind of many accessory designers, especially Ji Hye Koo, the creative mind and founder of the Korean accessory brand, gu_de. The market was once filled with extroverted designs; either bold and garish in colour palette or extravagantly small – so much so that they’re almost redundant. “Rather than products that are only used over one season, I see the demand increasing for styles that can be used over many seasons, time and time again,” shares Koo. Her design foresight has also affected the way she runs her business. Seeing the surge of online sales during the worst of quarantine, Koo knew it would take more than upping their e-com game to keep sales. “Customers who are unable to access the product in person often ask for more detailed information and styling suggestions,” she says. “Through this we have increased our communications with customers through different channels wherever possible...When creating new collections, I try to make practical designs, while reflecting the brand’s vision of the ‘new classic’.

The ‘new classic’ is the ethos that gu_de – whose name is based on the archaic pronunciation of the work ‘good’ – is devout to. Koo explains that she “launched gu_de to create a brand that combines timelessness with unique elements,” which couldn’t be more relevant when the concept of trends and seasonality are quickly disappearing. Having launched in 2016, the brand quickly became a favourite with fashion folk for the retro-inspired, yet modern designs, where vintage pieces are a longstanding inspiration for Koo. While travelling in Europe, I found some old vintage bags and jewellery at a market and thought that their silhouettes and detailing were so beautiful,” she says.  “After that, I became interested in 1970’s Haute Couture, vintage bags and accessories and the mood of that time period.” The brand’s aesthetic reflects this perfectly: “gu_de pursues unaltered beauty by offering the ultimate balance between the past and present. Essentially, we create understated bags with a unique silhouette and interesting detail.”

For this season, Koo was inspired by Luca Guadagnino’s 2009 film, I Am Love. “The AW20 Collection is all about ‘glam’, I wanted to express luxury through bold colours and glamorous materials and adornments.” While the aforementioned adjective that describes the collection won’t have described the majority of our WFH outfits, feeling its presence again is ultimately refreshing. Pops of metalics and croc-embossed leather gives the bag an air of opulence, but without being too avant-garde, the bags are entirely wearable for your day to day. As Koo notes, it’s this essence that makes her bags desirable in her homeland as well as abroad. “Even though fashion and trends are constantly changing, the universal beauty and exquisite nature of our pieces remain forever. This is a value that underpins everything that we do here at gu_de and is something that not only applies to the domestic market but also internationally.”

This autumn may not be the original concept of glam that we all hoped it would be, with no parties or events to dress up for, Koo’s latest offerings show that it can make an appearance in our lives, even if it's not worn on our bodies. How gu_de is that?

Shop gu_de bags below:

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