Jack Yan is publisher of Lucire.
Customization has long been forecast as a major trend in marketing, though we seldom see it done well in fashion, where you’d expect it to be more prevalent. However, there’s one exception, that of the New York City-based Goldno.8 (officially styled all in lowercase as goldno.8), where founder Ariane Gold (left) has successfully created a customizable handbag, tote and backpack line in a short space of time, and netted herself a loyal following in the process.
Searching the web on DuckDuckGo, you can see the genesis of Gold’s idea: a Kickstarter campaign in 2016, where she proposed the idea of bags that are sold in components: ‘Pick your bag, choose your color combo, select your straps, then add snaps and key tags to add personality.’ The bag evolves with the user during the day, components changing to suit her needs. With durable materials and a promise of local manufacture, Gold had quality built in from the beginning: by being close to Goldno.8’s quilter, hardware supplier and fabric manufacturer, she was able to refine the functionality and construction through a series of prototypes. The brand formally celebrated its second birthday at the time of writing.
The first design was borne of necessity. As a mother and a creative director, Gold needed a bag that was multifunctional, something that she could use for work, the gym, her boys’ activities, and evenings out—and she wanted something unique. From that came the Goldno.8 idea: why can’t all women have bags that are unique to them?
The idea makes perfect sense in the greater context: most innovations democratize, so if the last few decades saw celebrities collaborate with fashion labels on their eponymous collections, why shouldn’t the 2010s and 2020s see everyday women have the same luxury of determining just how their own fashion and accessories look? The trick was, of course, making it work.
Gold had earned her stripes in the industry for over 20 years before embarking on her own venture. ‘From a very young age, I knew that I wanted to be a fashion designer,’ she tells Lucire. ‘I moved to New York City to attend college at the Fashion Institute of Technology and got my first job as an assistant designer at Isaac Mizrahi straight out of school. As they say, the rest is history, and I have worked in fashion ever since! I have been incredibly fortunate throughout my career to have worked for and learned from some of the very best in the fashion industry—including Ralph Lauren, Catherine Malandrino and Isaac Mizrahi.’
Those years working for other labels revealed one important lesson for Gold. ‘Of everything that I learned in my years as a designer, the most important by far, is that many women don’t want to be told what to wear and how to wear it. They want to have a say in how they style themselves, and they love being included in the design process. I came up with the concept for Goldno.8 with all of this in mind. Goldno.8 gives our customers the tools to create a bag as cool an individual as they are. They can trick it out or clean it up, their Goldno.8 will transform with their mood, outfit and tastes!’
As a result, Goldno.8 has broad appeal: ‘She is urban or suburban. She is on the move and wants to look fabulous whether watching the kids, heading to work, or meeting up with friends for dinner.’
Creating a unique Goldno.8 design is simple enough for customers. The website has several in-season designs as starting points, with a very on-trend quilted pouf and an incredibly practical reversible carry-all among them, or you can shop by category. Le Pouf is the perfect bag for a night out, beginning at US$125. The carry-all can even accommodate a 15-inch laptop, is fully reversible, and made from 70-denier quilted nylon. There is even the Crossbody Phone Case, with versions fitting Iphones 6 through XS, including the larger 6 through 8 Plus models. It’s one of the nicest cases we’ve ever seen, made from Italian quilted leather, and with internal protection for the phone.
Gold has eight basic designs that customers build on. ‘When designing a new Goldno.8 style, it is very important to me that it fulfils a specific purpose and need. Every style in our collection is functional, durable and stylish. What makes Goldno.8 bags so amazing, is that they are all multi-functional. Goldno.8 bags are not one bag one way, rather they can be worn a multitude of ways and they transform with our customers’ moods, outfits and tastes.’
Once you click through after selecting your design, you’ll see that Goldno.8’s stylist has prepared some designs already, but there’s no need to stay with those: just click ‘Build your bag’ and you’re presented with more choices on how to make the design uniquely yours. There are tags and snaps on the site, as well as pins and straps, all interchangeable between the label’s bags.
Goldno.8 is available only through this channel, something that Gold envisaged from day one. ‘When I conceived of Goldno.8, direct-to-consumer was the only way that I considered building the brand. Being able to communicate directly with our customers and learn from them is amazing, and has helped us build a community of fiercely loyal customers.’ In fact, her site even asks customers for input into future designs, particularly with the phone cases, so they can accommodate non-Apple models in the future.
That enthusiasm has led to a healthy 17,000 following on Instagram, for instance. ‘Our customers post their bags on social media and share their love for the brand with their own networks. In huge part, it is thanks to our customer’s infectious enthusiasm that Goldno.8 has gained the brand recognition that it has so early on.’
This year will see Goldno.8 build on its momentum, says Gold. ‘I am beyond excited about the amazing styles and accessories that we will be launching in the coming year. The beauty of Goldno.8 is that our customers can update their bags seasonally, or as we introduce new accessories so that they can keep their bag feeling fresh and exciting. I believe that there are no limits for Goldno.8—we will continue to evolve the collection so that it is at the forefront of innovation and fashion.’ With the permutations one can create at Goldno.8, Lucire believes customers will indeed come back for more: no woman should feel trapped by the whims of mass-production labels when this brand makes it so easy to craft something for yourself. •
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Selected team Instagram accounts Jack Yan | Summer Rayne Oakes | Sopheak Seng | Elyse Glickman | Lola Cristall | Jody Miller | Sarah Arnold-Hall | Jamie Dorman | Doug Rimington | Tanya Sooksombatisatian | Paula Sweet