Over the years Dubrovnik has inspired many a painter to create stunning scenes, an author to write the perfect poem and a sculpturer to bring life to stone. The historic architecture inside the ancient city walls have also enthused Renata Debeljak to design beautiful and stylish bags. The Dubrovnik Times caught up with this up-and-coming Dubrovnik based designer to learn why her brand RDCode is causing so many ripples in the design world. Through her work as a journalist she came in contact with world famous artists, their magic rubbed off, and now her unique bags are extremely sought after. “I believe that bags are much more than a fashion detail; they have a much more complex story,” commented Debeljak.
Where do you get the inspiration for the designs of your bags? Is it true that every bag is unique in design?
RDcode bags are my creative way to tell some of my stories, what I am currently experiencing, to “write” through them about my travels and the cities that have impressed me and left their mark on my soul. My inspirations are inexhaustible. Sometimes it is the windmills of Holland and Germany, sometimes the seashore, for some bags the German island of Sylt, and for some the old doors of Dubrovnik. Quite often my hometown of Bremen in northern Germany is a big influx. In modern and especially historical architecture I find inspiration for my bags. I don’t want to put bags in the context of the seasons or of current trends, or even to create some kind of collection, because each one has a separate story and I want them to be unique and timeless. It is true that all of my bags are unique, no two are identical.
What gave you the motivation to start your own company? Is this a hobby and a passion that has transformed into a business?
As a journalist, I most frequently write about topics of culture and lifestyle. Through this journalistic work, I have been able to meet many interesting artists and creative people from all over the world who came to Dubrovnik and whose work I admired. Their ability and talent fascinated me. They created amazing works, from sculpture, to glass reliefs, and jewellery made of unusual materials as well as bags that were real works of art. I am convinced that all those talents with which we are born will sooner or later come to the fore. I have always loved and had unusual handbags. It is important that the bag I carry reveals a story of my personality and not that it is part of the serial production. It's been hard, therefore, to find exactly the kind of bag that would suit me. I believe that bags are much more than a fashion detail; they have a much more complex story. So I got the idea to start designing them myself. I taught myself, with the help of foreign internet sites, how to go about creating a bag, putting it together. Before I decided to make my first bag back in 2006, I knew absolutely nothing about cutting out and sewing; I only had ideas in my head that were waiting to be brought to life. I tried to explain to others my ideas, but it would ultimately always turn out differently than I imagined. So with a great deal of hard work and determination I taught myself the techniques required to create a bag from scratch. I make all of my bags myself. Handbags have always been a hobby of mine, but two years ago I transformed this into a business and launched the fashion brand RDCode, however I still have my “day job” as a journalist.
Are handbags an extension of your personality? Do you find yourself "handbag watching" as you travel or during your time in Dubrovnik?
Yes, my bags are really copies of my personality. I started to design them primarily for my own personal style, which is along the lines of casual chic, not really connected to any fashion trends. I love to wear bags that last longer than a season, but also big, oversized bags, with which I can travel. Trips inspire me as well as the timeless beauty of my Dubrovnik.
What is the most important possession in your handbag? Do you have a favourite handbag or do you change them daily?
Depending on my day and my obligations in that day, but I like to say that my bags are along the line of that old Roman saying “bring all of your things with you.” Even though I design my bags I don’t change them every day. Sometimes I carry my same favourite bag in the summer and in the winter, and they are never big enough to carry all of the things I need. Most often I have a grey or some earthy coloured bag. I love simple designs without unnecessary details. Therefore the details of my bags are commonly found in the shape of a windmill and bags are generally made of different varieties of organic skins.
What are the plans for the future?
I have a lot of plans; one of them is to offer my designs onto foreign markets.