Unsung S'pore Icons: Dumpling Bag from Beyond The Vines goes places

By The Straits Times on 7 August 2021


SINGAPORE – Never has a bag ensnared the nation quite like the Dumpling Bag. And it was created by a home-grown brand, no less.

With its distinct ruched closure, the water-resistant bag from Singapore-based design studio Beyond The Vines is now everywhere you turn.

It is casually slung over a chair at a cafe (when dining in was still allowed), in a corner at the gym, peeking out from a grocery shopping cart during a supermarket run.

Launched at the end of 2019 right before the pandemic, it became, within a year, the bag that all your friends and their mothers carry. Some men have been spotted toting the larger sizes too.

It counts celebrities among its fans. Presenter Jade Seah, 38, who owns a limited-edition tricolour version, fancies it "the perfect size".

"I usually prefer more structured bags, but this little bag has found its way into my heart and my busy life. It's casual enough to pair with athleisure and denim looks, but works as easily with summer dresses. Great for pandemic times where most of my time is spent in such looks."

In a way, it embodies the ultimate pandemic bag, capturing carry-all practicality with a touch of wannabe flair.

In a time where dressing down has become the norm and shoppers seek a halfway mark between cool and comfortable, the $59 Dumpling fits seamlessly into many a pandemic wardrobe. It even folds neatly away into a pouch.

Its founders and designers never expected it to become such a seminal bag - especially given that Beyond The Vines began as an apparel label.

Declining to reveal how many pieces the label has sold, co-founder Rebecca Ting says the bags gained traction after the circuit breaker ended last year, in July.

"We're super proud of it not just because it has become popular, but also because it has become such an intuitive product to the end user. It takes on the character and lifestyle of the person using it," she says.

"It is used the same by a 16-year-old and a 60-year-old and neither would think it was age- inappropriate. Making good design accessible to all has always been at the core of why we do what we do."

The bag was launched in XS and XL ($89) sizes in three neutral colours. As it grew in popularity, colourways were added and details tweaked. The current version is its third iteration.

The company was flooded with requests for a mid-size bag, says Ms Ting, and so an M Dumpling ($79) was launched in March.

As retail restrictions tightened, and as the team wanted to get closer to the community, it began experimenting with live-streaming during the circuit breaker to launch new products and colours.

Since then, Ms Ting has been fronting the hour-long live streams - answering questions, taking customers on virtual studio tours and explaining the design intent and functionality.

"It's like having a video call with a friend," she says. "We hear first-hand what our community loved about our products or how it felt we could improve."

Beyond The Vines launched another, sturdier, bag last month, the Canvas Carryall ($79).

Will this be the new "It" bag?

Ms Ting does not want to speculate on its potential, but believes that, like its nylon predecessor, the new carryall "reads its user and seamlessly integrates into one's wardrobe".

For now, the Dumpling remains the brand's most popular product.

The company recently did a pop-up at its Takashimaya store, offering free personalisation with every new Dumpling Bag purchased. It runs until Aug 15, with a possible extension.

Ms Ting adds: "Our focus has always been on designing products that are functional and intuitive to the user regardless of archetype, which is what has made the bag so easily adopted into one's lifestyle."

Sure, it has lost a bit of its exclusivity – try walking into any Orchard Road mall and not spotting at least one – but the sense of being inducted into an in-the-know member's club remains.

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