Will Your Favourite Animal Bag Appear? How We Pick our Wicker Purse Designs

I am often asked how on earth I come up with such cute little wicker purse designs - and even more frequently asked when X, Y, and Z animals might make an appearance in our collection. 

You want your favourite furry or feathered friend to appear, and I get it.

So today I’m going to be giving you, my devoted Wicker Family, the inside scoop on the thought and design process behind our wicker animal bag ideas (and really ALL our figural wicker purses - because it’s not just animals). 

I will discuss what inspires me, how I design my handbags shaped like animals, how they get their names, and answers to many more of your SUPER IMPORTANT questions, because I am listening my dearest darlings.

So, without further ado - it’s time for a cheeky Q&A! 

Q: What inspires you in your wicker purse pursuits? 

I swear I am inspired by a million things all at once!

I love all things that hop, howl, squeak, and squawk, and I am usually inspired by cute (or awkward) animals - particularly birds. 

I have always had a soft spot for birds. Heck, I started this whole company based on the need for a pink flamingo purse! Birds are just so expressive and bold and quirky - so I guess I truly relate to them! As such, you will always see a few bird purses floating around our store. 

Now, I’m not only inspired by our warm-blooded brethren. I’m also very into cold-blooded critters. I’ve got an idea for a whole line of under-the-sea creations, and you’ve already got Bubbles the Fish and Marcus the Sharkus to start! 

And did you SEE our dinosaur purses? Those are some heckin’ glorious chonky thunder lizards!

I might also be inspired by the time of year. I’ve had plenty of seasonal purses in my collection - from my Harvey bunny rabbit purse with his adorable carrot coin pouch, to my fabulous fruity Fineapple bag for those sunny beach days. 

I’m also quite inspired by bright colors. If you’ve been paying any attention at all (and I know you have my dear), then you know my closet is STUFFED TO THE BRIM with color upon color upon color! 

Okay, mostly pink.

You will indeed often see wicker purses that are pink (or go well with pink) because that just so happens to be the BEST color in my world. 

But all colors are welcome.

And last, but absolutely not least, I am inspired by YOU my roly poly dumplings! Which means, if you ask for that particular wicker animal bag enough, it just might magically appear in our pre-order one day. I enjoy seeing people out and about who are wearing their whole darn personality on their sleeve and having oodles of fun with their personal style. 

That’s what I want our bags to embody. I want them to be a fun extension of your personality. I want people to be excited about their wicker purse every time they remember they own it. I want people to see our wicker animal bags and literally scream “THAT IS AMAZING.”

So that is what I strive for. Am I doing a good job? 

Q: How do you choose which wicker animal bags to feature?

In all honesty, I sometimes make bags for selfish reasons. I might choose a creature simply because it’s what I want in my own collection. But, more often than not these days, it comes down to customer requests!

You are vocal little vintage vixens - and you are always giving me food for thought when it comes to my wicker animal bags. 

If I notice there's a groundswell of demand for a particular design, I'll get on it (hello, cat ladies, I heard you with Orangey the Cat), but other times one single person might say “Hey, how about this?,” and I'll think “THAT IS ABSOLUTE GENIUS. YES. LET'S DO THAT!”

But just because I am inspired by something doesn’t mean I can make it into a wicker purse. Over the years I have learned that rattan can do some absolutely marvelous things - but it can’t do them all. 

For example, some specific dog breeds won’t work. I would love to have a sweet Pugly Delicious bag, but I just absolutely cannot capture the cute little rolls of a pug’s face in wicker. 

And believe me when I say we’ve tried.

And I’ve had plenty of requests for an echidna/porcupine/hedgehog bag, but if I actually gave you ladies a bag with a bunch of spikes on the back...I would receive at least double that number of complaints. (Cue snagged clothing, scratched couches, offended pets, and bags with spikes snapping off!) 

So some animals are more suitable for wicker than others. I do my best to make sure the design will translate well into a wicker purse - so I can truly capture the character of the animal, without giving up any function or form when it comes to your wicker animal bag. 

Sometimes, I even opt to re-launch or redesign old favourites that have already made their debut. There is no rhyme or reason (or guarantee!) to when I will do this, so if you see your fave you’d better snatch it up while it’s still there!

Some days I just get the itch to reinvent a flamingo or kitty or other wonderful wicker bag that is already in our collection. It could be a different paint job, or a different style altogether! You never know if an old favourite will show up in one form or another, so keep poking around the store! 

Q: How do you dream your wicker purses up? - (ie: sketches on a napkin, illustrator, watercolors, etc.)

It'll sound naff, but I swear my wicker purses just come to me fully formed more often than not. (Especially now that I'm a lot more experienced with how my designs will actually translate in paint and rattan.)

When a wicker vision comes to me, I sit down and try to sketch it out. But I’m an absolute crap drawer - so this part of the process can often be quite frustrating for me. 

But thank GOODNESS I’ve got some artisan goddesses working over at the atelier. 

Sometimes I just have to send a bunch of pictures of an animal in JUST THE RIGHT POSE to the wonderful woman who creates our tech packs, and I say “Please use this shape?,” and she just takes care of it. 

I also keep a very open mind and trust my Filipino artisans with the process. Sometimes they'll receive a design and straight away say “The bag won't balance if we do it exactly this way,” or “We can't source those materials” or just a straight up “We'll do our best …” 

I'm always happy to make room for that. 

Some designs haven't quite been what I had initially thought of, but other times they've turned out even better! (Bubbles the Fish was soooo much better than I had hoped for!) 

So technically the handbag designs are made in Australia, but really they COME TO LIFE at the atelier. 

Q: Do your critters already have a backstory in your mind, or do their stories evolve with the bag?

The stories almost always evolve with the bag. 

For example, I loved, you loved, we ALL LOVED how judgy Percy the Peacock ended up looking, but it was totally unintended! 

The smallest details will often influence the outcome of the wicker purse; the positioning of features like the ears, nose, eyes, etc. All those little nuances can completely transform the personality or expression of the bag. 

So, once the bag is fully formed, I get a much more clear understanding of who the little wicker diva is and what their story is. 

And you my wicker loving-lads and lasses always weigh in when there’s a worthy story waiting to happen. You have a lot of fun on Instagram, dreaming up the fabulous lives of our wicker bags before they graced your carefully-curated closet. 

And I couldn’t be more in support of your creativity.

Q: Are any of your wicker animal bags related?

As family members? Absolutely! The unicorns (Victor the Unicorn and Viv the Unicorn) are siblings. 

And, I think there's going to end up being a big Victorian family of dinosaurs. Mary the Triceratops was named for Mary Anning, an English paleontologist in the mid 19th century, and now we have Charlotte Bronte-saurus

*ahem* …I wonder which dino darling will come next!

And, if we’re really being honest here, I consider all my wicker purses a part of MY family. We’re all a big Wicker Family here! 

Q: How do your wicker purses get named?

This is another area where I often refer to my Wicker Family for inspiration. I will throw it over to you, my ravishing radishes, for all your best puns and references. I will generally take a suggestion that I find particularly clever or amusing. 

Flamingo Montoya, Belle-ephant, Pigasus, and Walter Melon are just some of my favourite customer-suggested names!

Occasionally, I will make a sentimental choice in naming my wicker purses. For example, our first wicker purse, Chile the Flamingo, was named after the last flamingo in Australia - who resided in the Adelaide Zoo. 

But like all things here at Wicker Darling, the right names seem to find me.

Q: What wicker purse is coming next?

Well I can’t give away all my secrets! You will just have to be patient.

We have regular (well-announced) pre-orders and any available bags are always featured on our homepage. Sometimes, we even have a spontaneous re-stock of a well-loved wicker bag.

But rest assured, we are cooking up all sorts of quirky wicker purse critters for you that will roll out in the following months. So stay tuned kiddos - and get on that email list if you aren’t already! 

Still have questions about our wicker purses? 

Pop on over to our FAQ page for other FAQs about our unique handbags. If you don’t see the answer, feel free to ask me. If I get asked a question enough, I may just need to have another little Q & A session with you lovely ladies! 

I’m just absolutely tickled that you love our cute animal handbags so much, and that you want to be privy to all this behind-the-scenes magic. As you can see, you’re actually a big player in many of my designs!

I am so thankful to have such amazing, badass women on my team - and I can’t wait to see what we come up with together!

If you’re new to the Wicker Family, or simply can’t get enough wicker for your collection, then hop on over to our wicker menagerie to see which designer wicker bags are in stock!

April 13, 2021 — The Wicker Darling Team