An evening with Liam Bowden: The designer behind Deadly Ponies

Thursday 6 September 2018

Where did the name Deadly Ponies come from? At University I was pretty much on the go 24/7. I made a pair of cozy slippers, which were made out of goats skin, and I told everyone that it was pony skin and they believed me. I started getting creative and making stickers and signs with the name Deadly Ponies on it. One day I made some zip purses for a local market we had going at Uni. I needed something to attach the prices to so I used my old stickers with the name Deadly Ponies on it. Suddenly that was the brand name and I haven’t been able to shake it since.

Was that the markets in Auckland? Yeah so at University we had a little market thing going on and I started selling stuff there, and at the same time I was freelancing with Galleries and Stores doing Graphic Design, and then I started to sell my products to the places I was doing design for. I studied graphic design.

Was this something that you always wanted or did it just evolve? I always knew that I wasn’t going to be well managed by other people, so I did have an idea that I would do my own thing. But I didn’t know that it would end up being women’s handbags. I had an interest in furniture too so I was tossing up between furniture and graphic design. Then one of my lectures said within graphic design you can do a lot of stuff so for a lot of my briefs, I ended up making weird cabinets and furniture pieces and then I just fell into handbags. 

Is anyone else in your family interested in fashion or working within fashion? My Sister used to work for a fashion PR Company, she has a marketing background. For a little while we worked with her PR company, that’s about as far as the fashion gene goes but sometimes I feel that we aren’t actually in fashion anyway, because we make bags not clothing.

What industry would you say you are in then? I would say product design.

 What does a normal day of work look like for you? There are a lot of meetings! Design, production, deliveries, retail!

 How do you look so young?! What’s your skincare regime? (Steve Liam’s partner answers this one) He has an entire cabinet that takes up half of the bathroom, its full of Aesop!

How many people are behind the Deadly Ponies brand and form your team? There is about 30 of us, 12 are in our retail them and then the rest are in our head office, which is where we make majority of our product. We have a massive car park that we have converted into our workroom, so half of it is office for marketing and sales etc. The other half is production so we have leathers arriving, bags being cut and all of that.

Where did the inspiration of your latest collection rust come from? Our previous collection Black ocean was all about natural camouflage and we made these big marble buttons. A few of them had dropped onto the ground and shattered into pieces so we had all these fragments of gems. We thought what are we going to do with these little gems? This is where the idea of making sequins to sew onto bags came from. Then from there the main starting point to the collection was a colour. We had never used a colour as a starting point for any of our other collections. The colour was rust. Then we played with techniques, looked for inspiration in Japanese Kimonos, and the way they tied and knotted them, which created the knotting seen in our latest collection.

How long does it take to make one bag? It would take around three days depending on what the bag is. It is a job shared across a few people, someone who cuts it, someone who dies the edges of suede, and someone who puts it all together. They are all made in New Zealand using New Zealand dear skin sourced from the south island. Our leather supplier also supplies Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Hugo Boss.

Where do you see yourself and the brand in 5 years time? We have such a fantastic team around us its allowed us to look forward and plan out for the next 10 years and see where we want to go, which is global. From next month Carla is going to Paris to sell to the international fashion market.  Japan is also really strong for us too, so those are our major goals.

What are three things you couldn’t live without? My phone, my nutribullet because I forget to eat, and the people around me like Steve and Carla.

Where can we find you on a Saturday night? Probably at home, I have to travel so much that having a weekend at home is a bit of a blessing.

Favourite food? Thai

Colour: Navy

Holiday destination: Thailand

Star sign: Aquarius.




















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