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Jenny Hsieh of X NIHILO

The multi-hyphenate designer on reinventing what it means to be a bag lady, advocating for the slow fashion movement and how to choose the right bag for you.

Founder, CEO and Creative Director of X NIHILO, Jenny Hsieh is a modern day #girlboss in every sense of the word. From designing, to overseeing the financial aspects and inspecting each bag before it’s shipped out, Jenny has her hand in every part of her business. And it’s hard work. So why does she do it?

I do what I do because I wanted to create a culture that evokes my idea of strength, beauty, and independence to inspire women through my designs. I aspire to be the voice for women with a strong identity and come from a generation with a desire to express individuality,” she says.

As such, X NIHILO’s pieces are structural, practical and fashion savvy. It’s probably why the bags are doing so well in the social media sphere, popping up on Instagram feeds alongside style darlings and blazing its own path in the fiercely competitive fashion industry.

With designs and material compositions that rival some of the biggest and best accessory names, X NIHILO is one to watch — and carry.


“We want women to wear their personality.”

The X NIHILO Eight bag is crafted from nappa leather and dramatically extends to the sides. Images courtesy of @figtny

Apart from being beautiful and sophisticated, the X NIHILO brand is born out of honesty. Tell us about this.

By honesty, I mean responsibly sourced materials, astounding craftsmanship, embracing the slow fashion movement and considered designs. X NIHILO consciously distances itself from conspicuous branding. We want women to wear their personality.

What does the ‘slow fashion movement’ mean?

My theory behind the movement is that the only way I can embrace slow fashion as a designer is to create things that will last, whether by design elements, craftsmanship or materials used.

Through the designs of your leather goods, you evoke strength and independence in women. Aside from naming the pieces after the women you admire, how do your designs come to life?

As the brand continues its journey, I’m embracing the unknown and endeavouring to refine our identity by drawing inspiration from empowered women around me. Each piece in our Collection 2 is designed with a specific muse in mind. These muses represent the diversity and individuality of X NIHILO women.

X Nihilo Dianti bag for Apres Avant

The Dianti bag’s compact design makes it a fuss-free, functional accessory. Image courtesy of @theversastyle

Just like Collection 1, each design is well thought of. With considered details on movement, functionality, size and practicalities in mind, the bags are designed to suit diverse women from various walks of life and style. The designs are inspired by their lifestyle, personality, career and need for functionality in a bag.

“The only way I can embrace slow fashion as a designer is to create things that will last, whether by design elements, craftsmanship or materials used.”

How do you ensure quality and craftsmanship, which is pivotal to X NIHILO?

We monitor the quality from the beginning, starting from development and sourcing. We make sure that the design elements, patterns, hardware and capacity of the bag are practical. We also work with our technicians to find the best possible way to assemble and construct each design detail.

We also have a strict QC procedure throughout the manufacturing process with our own man on the ground. And before we ship out our bags, I must always check each single one myself to ensure that our quality standards are met.

X NIHILO was born on the same day you quit your job. How did you feel that day?

When I go through life changes and decisions, my father (who passed away a few years ago) is always the first on my mind. He was my father, mentor and best friend. I’ve always looked up to him. He was a self-made businessman who grew up with very limited resources and education. He always believed in me and encouraged me to be different when I felt like I needed to behave or dress a certain way to conform with society. Throughout his life, he was constantly breaking his own mould while pursuing his own success. For him, he had nothing to lose and he never stopped pursuing his goals. His life journey and his positivity is always something I keep going back to and reflect on.

“Before we ship out our bags, I must always check each single one myself to ensure that our quality standards are met.”

Did you always know you wanted to design your own line of bags, and did your very first collection turn out the way you had envisioned?

I always knew I wanted to have my own business since I was a little girl. I wanted to create a career for myself that catered to my passion of creating things from scratch, hence the name X NIHILO. It is a Latin phrase that means “creation out of nothing”. I love the process of creation and seeing it come to life because you go through so many sleepless nights, changing, improving and amending.

In terms of design, it was very different from what I had first envisioned — it’s so much better.

For anyone looking to purchase an everyday leather bag, what are your tips?

Always focus on how you want to use your bag and what kind of compartment you will need. Pick styles that will take you from day to night, and offer ways for you to change it up to suit your needs.

What are your top three picks, and why?

Bank

This is my absolute favourite from our current range. The design of this bag accompanies me from day to night, from casual to dressed up. At work, this bag is sophisticated and fits my 12-inch MacBook, as well as all my essentials. On the weekends, it lends my outfit a cool factor.

Bank bag X Nihilo

Image courtesy of @figtny

Eight bag X Nihilo

Image courtesy of @thejan.edit

Eight

This bag is truly a special bag and is designed to be super versatile. It’s a tote, shopper, bucket and workbag. It’s your ultimate everyday bag. I wanted to have a bag where you can change how you want to wear it, how it looks based on your outfit and the things you want to put in it. It fits a 13-inch laptop and I love the pattern we have created for this bag that gives it its fluid lines and unrestrained structure.

Milford

This is your new kind of bucket bag. With a squared-off base for structure, it boasts a spacious interior and snap button closure instead of a drawstring top for easy access to your items. The shape of this bag is made such that it rests against your body organically. And when you’re not carrying it, it’s almost like a sculpture to add to your interior.

Milford bag X Nihilo

Image courtesy of @thegreyhaus

Finally, what does the idea of conscious living mean to you?

For me, the essence of conscious living means finding freedom. Conscious of how you live gives you the freedom from fear, worry and feeling overwhelmed. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of consumer culture that we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.

Images courtesy of X Nihilo