The Bembien Bag You Should Carry, Based on Your New York City Neighborhood
When it comes to the crowded field of accessories in a TikTok-ified world of instant virality, it can be hard to cut through the proverbial noise. Brooklyn-based handbag brand Bembien, however, has managed to accomplish a rare feat: creating a singular, instantly identifiable aesthetic that is equal parts luxurious, nostalgic, and fresh. Specializing in artisanal woven bags in a myriad of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials, the brand’s entire portfolio carries a sense of ease and undone glamour that could easily transport you to the Mediterranean.
It all started when founder Yi-Mei Truxes stopped in her tracks on the cobblestone streets of Tribeca at the sight of an unbelievably chic woman in white linen dressed for the French coast, carrying a woven basket bag. “There are those moments in New York that just strike you unexpectedly,” says Truxes. “But it got me thinking, ‘How do you recreate this feeling of being somewhere else when you’re not on vacation?’” To capture that euphoric thrill, Truxes set out to create a line of exquisitely-crafted yet classic handbags that could mentally transport you to the far-flung destination of your dreams.
Fast forward to 2022, and Bembien has its first official outpost in Rockefeller Center, occupying hallowed ground directly next to the 50th Street marquee. “The extended exposure to everyone who passes through Rockefeller Center on a daily basis has been a game changer,” says Truxes. “Having started as a primarily online brand and moving to this in-person experience has been really special for us.” Shoppers can expect a physical manifestation of Bembien’s transportive nature, entering a calm oasis in direct opposition to the store’s bustling surroundings in midtown Manhattan. The earth tones and minimal, raw material fabrication of the space instantly evoke Greece, Formentera, and Bali, where Truxes found her artisans whom she has entrusted the intricate, delicate work of crafting Bembien’s signature woven textures (10% of all Bembien’s proceeds go back to these communities through the nonprofit Nest).
Though Bembien has an undeniable global appeal, its roots remain firmly planted in New York City. To further cement these roots, we created a city guide with Truxes matching the brand’s highly covetable bags with neighborhoods throughout the city’s boroughs. Read on for a tour of New York through the Bembien lens.
Upper West Side: Margot Bag (Medium)
Truxes: “This is our best-selling bag. It’s practical but also so chic; it’s a market bag so it’s durable for running around the city and perfect for New Yorkers who may be traveling to their country homes on the weekend.”
Upper East Side: Ella Bag (Oversized Knot)
“It’s on the fancier, more traditional side and a bit more precious, but still practical and perfect to go from day to night.”
Greenwich Village: Le Sac (in ‘Cocoa Stripe’)
“We just launched this one, and it’s been an instant hit. It’s small, minimal, and fits right under the arm for the cool kids who are running between all the bars and restaurants down there.”
Williamsburg: Olivia Tote (in ‘Sienna’)
“This is one of our bigger boho bags; it’s trendy but also casual. I feel like a lot of Williamsburg residents these days are also starting families, so it’s practical while still being very cool.”
Park Slope: Gabrielle (in ‘Vintage Check’)
“It’s classy and spacious for fitting everything while also being unique with the vintage check pattern. It has a really great earthy-yet-upscale vibe that I get from this area of Brooklyn.”
Long Island City: Frida Backpack (in ‘Black’)
“This neighborhood is like a mini Manhattan, so you need a backpack for carrying everything you might need during your day.”
Bushwick: Jolene Bag (Large)
“This is our tote made of 100% recycled plastic and comes in a variety of vibrant colors. It’s trendy but also environmentally conscious and has lots of meaning behind it, which we thought perfectly suited someone living in Bushwick. It’s also our most maximalist bag for anyone who leans toward the ‘more is more’ mentality.”
DUMBO: Benna Bucket (in ‘Black’)
“This bucket bag is one of our fastest-selling new styles. It’s refined and leans on the fancier side but is still trendy, much like everything in DUMBO.”
Harlem: Bonita Bag (in ‘Gio Weave’)
“The Bonita is the perfect size for a casual day, not too big but still roomy and can go anywhere. The ‘70s-inspired pattern is fun, bold, and makes a statement.”
Astoria: Nora Crossbody (in ‘Cream’)
“With so many young people moving to Astoria and the vibrant going-out scene, this crossbody is great for bar-hopping.”
Bembien is open at 30 Rockefeller Plaza Tuesday through Friday, 11am to 6pm, and on the weekends from 12pm to 6pm.