If you haven’t seen Parisa Wang‘s timeless but ultimately modern line of handbags, you’re in for a treat. Worn by the likes of Bella Hadid and your favorite fashion bloggers (seriously, all of them), Parisa exudes the same qualities as her gorgeous accessories: femininity, grace, and composure. Her urban Chinese background informs her personality, representing both East and West China behavior, just like last week’s Power Couple subject Michelle at Chalait.
Melded with a love of New York City and the 5 stages of love, Parisa Wang’s line launched in 2016 is a fashion standout. And luckily for you, the luxurious leather, craftsmanship, and design come at an accessible price point. With only two seasons under her belt, Parisa has established herself as a Globetrotter to be reckoned with.
The NuWa team was invited into her Upper East Side home, containing the Parisa Wang showroom and the most adorable cat named Miu Miu. We scored the low-down on her cultural background, fashion inspiration, phenomenal advice for new designers who’d die for Parisa’s success, and the crazy story of how her bags are now available on Shopbop.com.
Hey Parisa! Thanks for inviting The NuWa into your home. To begin, tell us about when you first knew you wanted to be in fashion.
Honestly, it has been ever since I was a little girl. It sounds so cliche, (she puts on the cutest little girl voice) “Oh, everyone wants to be a fashion designer!”. It is taboo and not really celebrated where I grew up. I’m from Shenzhen, a modern, Silicon Valley part of China. Asian kids are stereotyped as hardworking, with parents who expect you to become a lawyer or an accountant or a banker. I followed that route to earn my business degree in accounting. Honestly… I hated it. So I made the choice to pursue my passion, didn’t tell my parents, and applied to Parsons School of Design. I got an acceptance letter and moved to New York. I was so certain of going all in for my career and my dreams.
That’s fantastic! What happened next?
I finished the program and immediately began work in the fashion industry for the likes of Phillip Lim, J. Crew, Michael Kors, and Monique Lhuillier. I’ve never looked back and am so happy with the decisions I make.
Do you ever wish you were an accountant?
(We laugh, because who would?) Accounting is so useful, especially in developing my own business with sales reports, but I have more to offer than that. Spreadsheets don’t excite me. That’s not me! My passion is making beautiful accessories for women.
So tell us, what inspires your current line?
Around 2015, I went through what I’ve dubbed “a dark period”. Everything in my life fell apart. My work visa wasn’t working and my relationship was on edge. The collection is directly born out of this break-up and is inspired by the stages of love. The first season had five bags: each one capturing a stage of a relationship. The second stage is called The Addicted, a wristlet crossbody bag, inspired by the saying “wearing your heart on your sleeve.” It represents the honeymoon stage of love.
So cool! I can see the correlation in the final product.
Funny story! In the middle of the night on my way to the subway, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and a girl asked me where I got my bag. I lied and said, “Oh, on the internet.” She said, “Which website?”. Eventually, I introduced myself as Parisa Wang, the designer of my bag. She requested my line sheet, bought the line right away, and gave me an order the next day for Shopbop’s online retail. So, Shopbop literally caught us on the street!
How crazy! What if you weren’t on that corner? Or had taken a different subway?
I know! What if I didn’t even go to the conference I was attending that night?
Love it. Parisa, do you have any advice for young people who want to become fashion designers?
Everyone will tell you, it’s tough. For students fresh out of college, I don’t recommend starting your own business right away. I think there is value in job experiences, learning from a mentor, and working in the business first. Also, don’t be afraid to try when you are ready!
Let’s move into The NuWa favorite: what’s your cultural background and where are you from originally?
I am from urban China and have been in the States for 10 years (Yes, do the math and realize that Parisa is in her late 20’s and has her own business, blossoming career, and critical acclaim for her handbags, #nbd). It makes me independent. In addition, my personality has elements of both the East and the West side of China. I am connected to the deeply rooted culture of China and I’m very proud of my heritage. Respecting elders, living with your family after marriage, and visiting your parents with your children to build a family is important. It’s respectful, humble and conservative.
And what about the culture in the US?
I’ve had to open up and be more sociable since moving to America, and I love that it has awakened that side of me. When I first moved here, I went to Miami University in Cincinnati, Ohio and got to experience a true American college campus. I wouldn’t change that for anything.
Where are your favorite countries to travel?
I love Italy for its culture, history, and art. The craftsmanship inspires me. Also, Japan is amazing. For instance, their noodle shops seep with history. They’ve been making soba noodles for generations, and have perfected the artistry of their profession. I try to uphold those values. After testing factories around the globe, I have for my pieces produced in Hong Kong, which has a similar exemplary quality of craftsmanship.
What do you love most about your job?
I honestly really love what I do. Also, I know that I’m so lucky to make a living by doing what I love. I want to be the person who actually jumps to make what I love, happen. Mostly, I want to constantly innovate. My future is a piece of white paper. The road is entirely untraveled and I get to create the journey ahead. There is no system or structure laid out for me to follow. I can create my own destiny and draw the picture myself.
Congratulations on your success!
Thank you! When Bella Hadid wears my pieces, or editors place items in editorials, it’s always such a surprise.
Where can we find your pieces?
So, The NuWa readers, these high-end bags will be gracing the wrist of your coolest friends in the years to come. Take it from us: Snag a luxury creation from Parisa Wang and solidify your trendsetter nature while securing a piece of fashion that will timelessly last a lifetime.
Photography via Rachel Kuzma