When fashion veterans and longtime friends Yijia Wang and Zi Xuan created Advene in 2019, they set out to reinvent sustainable luxury in the accessories sector. Customers at the time had to choose between sustainability, style, and price. “That’s when we thought we should do something,” Wang says.
With Advene, Wang and Xuan, who are based in New York, created a solution: luxury accessories that are thoughtfully constructed, sustainably made, and fairly priced.
Advene’s first product, the Age bag, is entirely sourced from food byproducts and is 100% traceable. Leathers are produced in a tannery certified by the Leather Working Group. This means that, from rawhide to finished leather, every step of the process is held to the highest standards of environmental impact and ethical production.
There are only 13 tanneries in the world certified as such. “Just think about it,” Wang says. “Only 10% of leather made in the U.S. is traceable. We’re not producing new leathers;it’s all recycled leather.”
Additionally, the Age lacks plastic filling, which is commonly used to structure the silhouette of bags. Instead, the design ensures it maintains its architectural shape. “Even though it’s a three-dimensional, sculptural shape, we can achieve it without using any fillers,” Wang says. “It’s all very supple leather—the weight comes from the material itself.”
It’s not just celebrities like January Jones, Hailey Bieber, and Kerry Washington who admire Advene’s dedication to fine craftsmanship, high style, and commitment to sustainability—the Age won the nascent company the 2021 iF Design Award for Excellence.
“The Age bag is there to help a woman through her everyday adventure,” Xuan says. From an elegant dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant to a neighborhood bake-off or smart meetings with clients, it’s a versatile bag the duo says can easily be dressed up or down. “I wanted to create something for the modern working woman that empowers them and that gives them emotional support,” Xuan says.
The Edge, Advene’s second bag, is a casual yet chic rectangular shoulder bag that tucks neatly under the shoulder. “It differs from the Age, which is more feminine,” Xuan says. “The Edge is much cooler, more unisex.” From the front, it has a distinctly edgy appearance—chic but also sharp. From the side, Xuan used tulip-shaped gussets to maintain Advene’s feminine charge. Kendall Jenner immediately picked one up in black.
“The two bags have slightly different personalities,” Wang says. “The Age is more ladylike with its sculptural shape; you feel very special when you wear it. The Edge is perfect for anything; it’s an effortless, no-brainer companion for anything that’s still a chic way to elevate your style.”
The Trench Tote, the duo’s third and latest product, was designed during the height of the pandemic. “The majority of people used to work in the office, but now they can work from home or in cafes,” Xuan says. “It’s much more versatile than before.” The tote bags are made from hemp, which is four times stronger than cotton, and are durable and produced in a carbon-neutral facility powered by solar energy.
It’s a very French approach to styling. “French women usually wear a small purse to carry their everyday essentials,” Xuan says, who spent time in Paris with Wang before launching Advene. “And then they use a tote for larger items.”
Deliveries are 100% carbon-neutral, and Advene’s dust cloths are made from deadstock fabric from their hemp textiles supplier.
Advene also incentivizes customers with a discount if they choose minimal packaging. If a customer would prefer more extensive packaging, Advene has created a Forest Stewardship Council-certified gray-board box. Gray board is made using recycled pulp produced from old newspapers, cardboard, and other packaging making it 100% recyclable.
“We want to be a destination where people can find good designs that they can use for their everyday life,” Xuan says.
Wang says it’s important to keep their design approach consistent, “developing something that actually captures a daily moment for people, and then inspires them for those adventures.”
Advene can do this by maintaining close relationships with its customers, according to Wang. Surveys sent to clients ask about everything from product design to future designs. As a direct-to-consumer business, feedback from the brand’s customers influences design.
Advene will debut their highly anticipated crossbody bag this spring, followed by a second edition of the tote.
“In five years, based on our current pace, I think you will see a full line of handbags and small projects, tactile objects, and also potentially some key pieces for ready to wear, or maybe collaborations with furniture,” Xuan says. “Things that we can apply our design philosophy to, and then you can enjoy it in your everyday life.”