Imby Langenbach uses premium Italian leather to design and create simple, functional, beautiful clutches and totes. Its signature shibori lining, designed in collaboration with Sydney boutique textile agency Shibori Textiles, ensures each piece is unique.
"More consumers are coming back to a ‘buying less but buying better’ philosophy, appreciating goods that are carefully and thoughtfully produced, and knowing the story behind them.”Imby Langenbach
KARMME seems like a very personal project. What led you to launch your business?
Yes, it is very personal; it never started out as a planned business, it just evolved.
From a young age, I’ve always sewn, cooked or created in some way. I studied commerce/marketing and Japanese at university in Perth, then, after travelling and working in the UK and Europe, I settled with my family in Sydney eight years ago. I became increasingly inspired to create through any medium, but it wasn’t until I made my sister a leather clutch for her birthday that the seed was planted for KARMME. In the meantime, I’d had neck surgery and didn’t want to use a shoulder bag, so I made myself a similar clutch. I started to put photos of things I’d made on Instagram, mainly for my family in Perth to see what I’d been up to. People started to follow me and suddenly there was a demand for my clutches. Four years ago, with some friends’ help, we created a website, and that’s how I came to have a business. It has grown organically and evolved a lot over that time.
What were the challenges you faced when starting out?
My biggest challenge was consistent supply of my leather. At first, I was sourcing from Asia, hand-picking each hide and bringing them back. I think the challenge for any business is scaling. When I started, I never expected to be selling the quantities I am now, so choosing materials that are consistently available and of a consistent quality was probably my biggest challenge. I now source my leather through a supplier in Italy, where I am rewarded with beautiful pieces every time, so I can deliver the best quality leather goods I want KARMME to be recognised for.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?I think of KARMME as simple, elegant, functional but beautiful pieces that transcend age, trends and, sometimes, gender. It’s about versatility of design and owning something to use every day that feels beautiful to the touch.
Do you outsource your manufacturing?
Until a couple of years ago I stitched all the clutches myself, but I couldn’t keep up with demand, so I looked for local makers who could help. I’m proud to produce in Sydney – my makers understand my business philosophy and care as much about each piece as I do. I still stitch the shibori range, as I like to cut the exact piece I want to see created into a clutch. I will always stitch – it’s the best feeling to switch on the machine and switch off the other noise in my brain. I hand-dye the lining –there is something magical about shibori dyeing I still love.
Your most noteworthy project or collaboration to date?
Working alongside Karen Davis and Pepa Martin of Shibori Textiles [fellow sellers at The Store] has been an amazing collaboration. The leather their agency produces is like nothing else out there.
What are your aspirations for the brand?
We have a small but very loyal following, and I’d like to expand on this. My product range has been refined and expanded to include a fragrance, so 2018 is about KARMME being recognised in Australia and beyond as a brand that produces high-quality goods with a story behind them. More consumers are coming back to a ‘buying less but buying better’ philosophy, appreciating goods that are carefully and thoughtfully produced, and knowing the story behind them. I’d love to see KARMME accessorise some Australian designers’ collections, too!read less