I stumbled onto Divina Denuevo while browsing Instagram (the beauty of living in the social media era, you don’t need to get off the couch to find the next up and coming talent). My instant reaction when I saw their stunning camera bag was “Wow, so much history is attached to this design”. My curiosity drove to their site to find out more about their history. As it turns out, Divina Denuevo has only been around for 2.5 years, but it’s amazing to see how they successfully ingrain a sense of the past into their brand’s DNA. I have witnessed so many brands that try hard to infuse a sense of history or heritage into their soul with no luck. Divina Denuevo does this with ease, as their heritage shines through the material, be it the leather or hardware. Here is a little bit more about Divina Denuevo and the journey of the designers, Victoria Ronco and Dave Kelly, in reaching their dreams.
Englave: Where are you based?
Victoria: Vancouver, Canada
Englave: Describe your brand in 3 words
Victoria: Romantic, rustic and re-imagined
Englave: What unique characteristic do you incorporate in all your collections?
Victoria: Our entire line is about repurposing items that have been made redundant through the passage of time. We appreciate the history of these items. Divina Denuevo literally means “Divine Again” in Spanish. We search high and low for antique and vintage hardware, keys and adornments in an effort to up-cycle something old that was otherwise destined for the landfill, and make it new again.
Englave: What is your creative process when coming up with a new collection?
Victoria: We don’t work in conventional collections the way most designers do. We’re inspired by everything around us and we are constantly creating new pieces, most of which are one-of-a-kind. As for the actual process – it varies from piece to piece: some bags are finished in our heads before they’re even started. Others are a painstaking process of trial and error, prototyping and laying out, sewing and unsewing. The ones that are a breeze usually start with us laying the hide on the floor and looking at the shapes of the sides. When we see something there, we get a rush of inspiration, cut it out and get to work on sewing. Then we spill out our box of treasures and hold different pieces up to the bag, seeing which adornment of hardware looks the best. Other times, we design the bag around a specific piece of hardware – as we often find amazingly cool pieces that inspire us. The more difficult bags usually start with little to no direction, just a rough idea in our heads of what we want to do. We constantly hold the pieces of leather in the places we think they should go, and when we’re happy with the shape, we sew, or rivet into place.
Englave: What is your proudest moment, your biggest achievement?
Victoria: The biggest achievement for us is this business being a successful one! We went from having a hobby that we did in the hours outside of our day jobs on the floor of Dave’s kitchen to having our own studio space, to finally me being able to quit my day job and focus on this completely. Every other little success or highlight on this road is just icing on an already delicious cake.
Englave: Where do you get your inspiration?
Victoria: From a design point of view, we are drawn to antiquities and the opulence of the past. We seem to always seek out anything that seems ‘old world’ and that incites a romantic mystery like the kind you associate with Shakespearian England. From that, we draw our inspiration. More often than not, we create the leather around the adornment: when we find a particular treasure, we design the piece to suit it perfectly. In terms of the shapes of the bags – that is something quite organic: we try very hard to not waste leather, so we use the raw edges of the hide in the design: it’s those edges that give the bags that ‘rustic’ look, and make most of the pieces one-of-a-kind. The shapes that the hides naturally come in are often far more interesting than anything we could dream up and cut!
From a functional perspective, we look to our own needs as well as our customers. Most of our designs evolve through a process of listening to what our customers have to say – for example, when we see that many people are struggling to find a minimalistic wallet that has many card pockets while still remaining slim, we set out to solve that problem for them. Sometimes that results in us altering our designs – I recently asked our Facebook fans what they felt was the ‘right’ amount of pockets in a messenger bag – using that feedback we can design new pieces that will suit their needs.
Englave: What is your biggest struggle and wish as an emerging designer?
Victoria: The biggest struggle is visibility in the marketplace. You’re competing with well established brands that have large budgets to draw attention to their products, and it’s hard to be seen through all their flashy advertising campaigns. Often we offer similar products, though ours are hand made with a life time guarantee and the others are mass-produced, but because the buyer doesn’t know we exist, they don’t know that there are alternatives to shopping in big box stores, like supporting local artisans and designers.
Englave: What is next for your brand?
Victoria: This year has been a big year of growth for us, so now we are working on streamlining our process so that we can keep up. We’d like to expand our reach by increasing our presence in boutiques.
Englave: Which designer do you admire most and why?
Victoria: Tory Burch is a huge inspiration – what she’s built in such a short period is incredible, in terms of business acumen. In terms of skill and technique, there are so many leather craftsmen who do amazing things with the material that we are often left wondering how they did it.
Englave: Which designer do you wish to collaborate with the most?
Victoria: We don’t have one set ‘dream’ designer – we love collaborating with any designers that share a similar vision on projects that we can all get excited about.
Englave: Where can we purchase your product?
Victoria: At the moment we are available online www.divina-denuevo.com, directly at our studio (in Vancouver, BC) and in a couple other retail outlets (one on Vancouver Island and another in Hong Kong).