One Fated Knight bags it chic
These days, most indie designers start off by selling their wares through Etsy or craft fairs. Then, maybe after a year or so, their label gains enough traction to score a deal with a local retailer—or two, if they’re lucky.
But Jennifer Yau is not most indie designers. This stylish, young firecracker knows how to get products onto shelves. She served 10 years in the wholesale trenches, working for a global denim brand. So by the time she launched her own handbag label, One Fated Knight, it took her less than a season to get her gorgeous leather goods into 30 stores across Canada, including Plenty (various locations), Fine Finds (1014 Mainland Street) , and Riot Clothing(1395 Commercial Drive).
It’s an impressive feat, and one that’s been a long time coming. As the Vancouver native recalls, even though she’d worked her way up to a fairly sought-after position as an international jeans rep in NYC, she had been itching to strike out on her own for quite a while.
“After about two years of repping for the same brand, I quickly realized that really wasn’t my passion after all,” says Yau, who recently sat down with the Straight at an East Van café. “Even when I was living in New York, I was still working for the same brand—although it was a change of scenery. But it was the same job. Sure, it was a better position and I had more responsibility, but ultimately I lost my creative edge.
“It was like 50 shades of blue,” she continues with a laugh before mocking her sales banter of yesteryear. “ ‘This one has three whiskers here—so it’s a completely different jean! Do you want it skinny, straight, or boot cut?’ ”
Of course, these days, there’s nothing rote or disingenuous about her sales pitch. She genuinely loves her product line—and so she should. Her handbag designs are beyond beautiful. The Bishop ($198), for example, is a classic woven bucket tote that looks like it could come from any era and will only get better with age. The same goes for the Archbishop ($168), a chic, tasselled hobo that, like most of her designs, comes in cognac or black. The most hipster bag in this collection is the eggshell Count ($228), a leather backpack with brown suede trim and antique-finished hardware.
In addition to creating timeless bags, one of Yau’s main goals with One Fated Knight was to make her pieces relatively affordable without resorting to pleather. Even though designers like Marc Jacobs are a major source of inspiration for Yau, at this point in her life she can’t justify those kinds of prices.
“I know that high-end is very coveted and that it exudes luxury and whatnot,” the designer says. “But I thought that I can still do that within an attainable price point because with the way the economy is going right now, people still want to buy stuff, but they’re not buying $1,500 bags—well, the average person isn’t, anyway. I mean, there’s definitely a market for the Chanels, the LVs [Louis Vuittons], and all that. But I’m not going after that market because that’s not someone I relate to yet—maybe in 10 years, when I’m making more dough, but right now it’s like, ‘Rent or an LV bag?’ ”