If allowed to inject a dose of opinion into this article, Deadly Ponies is the New Zealand born label that you simply need to know. Headed by designer Liam Bowden, Deadly Ponies craft leather bags and impeccable accessories and jewellery of the highest possible quality, seamlessly marrying form and function. Working primarily with deer nappa, a material that is acclaimed for its durability and softness, the good people at Deadly Ponies pass their skins through a myriad of steps until it is deemed suitable for production. Their craftsmanship is second to none, with each piece being made by hand from the stitching of leather through to the treatment of hardware detailing. Commitment to their cause does not even come close.
There is no faltering on the fact that a Deadly Ponies item would be the investment of a lifetime. I, myself, have a DP ring, and I wear it every single day. They are a company that is continually breaking new ground. They employ fresh colours and different shapes each season, crafting new variations on old favourites and innovative new designs. Deadly Ponies holds the control over a complete set of binaries that are at play in their designs. Their designs are sexy but demure, glamorous yet grungy, and incredibly luxurious while remaining casual and resourceful.
Each collection is well researched, and have a certain depth that a lot of design or fashion houses neglect in today’s commercial climate. Their website, which remains the greatest showcase of their work, contains intriguing images to illustrate their concept. Each item is host to its own idiosyncrasies, sitting comfortably in the conceptual bed that the team has developed, reminding us of the immortal beauty and appeal of leather and of challenging ideas. In owning a Deadly Ponies bag, you are carrying around not only a lifelong companion, but also a loaded narrative and a history of thought, design and craftsmanship to be forever treasured. Be tempted; get to know Bowden, and the label that is Deadly Ponies.
Hall of Furs: Firstly, can you tell me a little about how Deadly Ponies came to be? What is the ‘once upon a time’ story of the label?
Liam Bowden: I’ve always been a maker, when I was young it was out of cardboard boxes and as I got older the materials have changed. Once I got my hands on leather I became obsessed and never looked back.
How did you come up with the name of your brand? Is there an anecdote to explain this?
While studying I made a pair of goatskin slippers which people though were pony skin, so they nicknamed me the deadly pony. When I started making pieces and needed a name, that was first to [come to] mind and [I] have been running with it ever since. It’s a bit out there, but it works!
With such a unique and cultured aesthetic, I have to ask… What is the label’s definition of beauty? Where do you find it?
For us the beauty is in nature. All our products are made from 100% natural products from the lining to the metal on the hardware [that] we use. We are constantly trying to refine this natural beauty and present it in new and modern ways.
How does Deadly Ponies go about designing and refining a collection? Where do you source inspiration, how do you research concepts and shapes?
It comes from many places; we listen to our customers and their needs and look at ways of building on our heritage, classic shapes and materials. From there we look at new techniques or materials we are wanting to develop. We consistently reference classic craftsmanship and well-designed form and function.
Where do you source your leathers and other fabrics?
All our leather is from New Zealand – we try to get as many of our materials from New Zealand to ensure the quality and finish is of the highest standard and to make it a truly New Zealand made product.
Would you say that the Deadly Ponies family is quite close knit? Do you scout artisans and opinions from outside sources?
Yes we are very much a family all working towards one goal – to create luxury items. We are continually introducing new members through our internship program and training them up to join the family.
Let’s talk about Deadly Ponies Precious. I absolutely love it all; I actually have the Snake-Knot Ring, and I wear it every day. In your opinion, what should jewellery mean for its wearer? What makes the DP jewellery aesthetic different?
We feel jewellery should have more sentimental feeling for the wearer. Our products are something to be treasured and have been hand-carved, then cast without being computer-generated. This brings a very different look to our collections. We are also developing our work by incorporating more precious and semi-precious stones, depicting more of the natural grain and character of the jewel.
Is there a particular collection that remains a special favourite amongst the brand’s staff?
Every staff member has his or her own favourite for many reasons but the point of difference is that they all custom-make their own designer bags. That way they have their own piece of DP with the extra sentimental value.
Who is the archetypal Deadly Ponies woman? What characteristics do you keep in mind when designing?
We design for every woman, for people who appreciate something made by hand and out of natural materials. It takes someone pretty special to want to invest in a product for the quality of the product as much as the brand behind it.
Who are some of the label’s icons, inspirations and other points of reference?
At Deadly Ponies we are drawn to timeless craftsmanship, so painters, sculptors and architects all make the cut. We are about to begin work on a new collection encompassing the collection of an amazing artist and interpreting his work in three-dimensional handbags.
Is travel a major component of the label’s design and production process? Where is one place you would love to visit?
Definitely. I travel often with work, and as our products are sold worldwide it is important they appeal to a global audience, the next place I think I will be visiting is Brazil!
What’s next for the label? Where do you see Deadly Ponies in five years time? We are now growing the brand in northern hemisphere with amazing results. So continuing to develop that area of our business will keep us busy for some time.
Words: Sophie Flecknoe. Image courtesy of Deadly Ponies.