SLUSH (AKA Sarah Barchichat) is a bad-ass handbag lady, currently working between Montreal and New York City. We interviewed her earlier this summer, and shot an editorial for her “PINK BUNNY” and “BUNNY BABY” bags, with the help of Leah Beth Gold and Sahara Baldwin.
SLUSH has graciously provided Pink Things with a discount code for her site! Use code pinkthings at check out for 20% off all month long.
Malaika Astorga for Pink Things: Let’s start with the basics, who are you and what do you do?
Sarah for Slush: My name is Sarah, and I’m the founder and designer at SLUSH :)
PT: Tell us how SLUSH began. How does your love of vintage come into play with your handbags?
SLUSH: SLUSH started out quite at random, actually. I was taking a sewing class at Fabricville in downtown Montreal and decided to make the first pink furry backpack as my final project. My professor thought I was mad, but everyone loved the bag. Since I was in between jobs at the time, I decided to get a studio and explore bag-making a little more. I knew I didn’t really have the skills to make clothing, but thought that maybe handbags would be easier. I was so wrong! Now I pull my inspiration from vintage handbags — mostly vintage cosmetics bags. Since I’m self-taught, I often have to completely deconstruct a bag just to understand how it was made.
PT: Where did you come up with the idea for the name “SLUSH”? What inspired it?
SLUSH: Funny story, I always thought my name was pretty generic and biblical, so when I seriously started getting into techno I was ready for a change. My boyfriend at the time came up with the name “Slush” and it became my rave alter-ego. So ridiculous, but it happened as a joke and then stuck. After that, everyone called me Slush and so many people still don’t even know my name.
PT: You state on your website that you find the Montreal fashion scene a “little too pretentious, a little too exclusive, and a little too dismissive.” Expanding on that, how do you think the scene could be improved to be more inclusive?
SLUSH: I think that the market in Montreal is so small and it really feels like everyone is fighting for the same job, same gig, same opportunity. This leads to competitive behaviour in lieu of creating a supportive community. I think Montreal designers can really take a page from our music scene and be encouraging and helpful to one another. If we grow together, we can be stronger.
PT: Despite the fashion scene in Montreal being a little too exclusive at times, tell us about your recent collaboration project with embroidery artists.
SLUSH: I am so excited about this! I am soon releasing a new collection of mesh handbags that will be sold with DIY embroidery kits. To promote the collab, I asked five artists that I have known to be interested in fibers to customize their own bag. The artists are Mil, Sophie Edell, Kelsey Wilson, Sophia Borowska and Zoe Gelfant. We just did a photoshoot with them and their bags, I cannot wait to release these!
PT: Let’s talk about your creative process. Is there anything particularly inspiring about Montreal, or do you get your inspiration elsewhere?
SLUSH: Montreal is actually quite inspiring, but I do get my inspiration from everywhere. In the past few years I have travelled a lot to Europe (mostly Germany and Italy) and the contrast of how life is lived in these places compared to Montreal fascinates me. In every city I visit I hunt for vintage tirelessly. I collect pieces that inspire me for different reasons; the cut, the fabric, the era, the nostalgia, the style, the colour. Sometimes I don’t wear a piece for years before finally feeling comfortable wearing it out. I am also inspired by all the creative people in my life that keep doing what they love, day in and day out — artists and musicians and stylists and photographers that just don’t quit!
PT: What makes SLUSH, SLUSH? Tell us about how the bags are made and why people should buy them.
SLUSH: These bags are made with so much dedication. The learning curve was tremendous and keeps challenging me everyday with every new design or fabric I intend to use. They are entirely handmade in my studio by me and my assistant. People should buy them if they feel they will accompany them on their journey of self-expression. Whatever your style, there is a SLUSH bag for you. That’s what makes SLUSH, SLUSH. I find that I don’t have one distinctive style and designed bags that, with the change of material, will completely change the aesthetic of the bags.
PT: The “Bunny” bags we shot for this editorial are an iconic fuzzy pink. What does pink mean to you, and for SLUSH?
SLUSH: Pink, to me, has always been the defining colour of femininity, gender aside. There’s something rebellious about pink fur, though. It’s so obnoxious and it demands attention. It’s assertive and not shy about it.
PT: What are your future plans for SLUSH? You had mentioned potentially moving to Manhattan in the spring.
SLUSH: Yes! I have been spending minimum 1 week per month in New York and it has been so amazing. The energy is palpable and the sense of community feels really strong and supportive thus far. I am working on a collaboration with the brand For Good Luck where I repurpose their remnants into handbags, and doing a pop up shop at The Phluid Project, which is a genderless store, for the whole month of November.
PT: Finally, where can we buy your bags?
This interview was conducted via email and has been condensed and edited.
USE CODE “pinkthings” for 20% off your purchase at checkout all month long.
Film photography & styling: Leah Beth Gold
Model & creative direction: Sahara Baldwin
Digital photography: Malaika Astorga
Leah Beth Gold is a stylist, currently based in Montreal.
Sahara is a multidisciplinary artist and model, born and raised in downtown Tkaronto. Since moving to Tiohtiá:ke her work has focused on photography and videography, styling and art curation, as well as writings on media and cultural criticism. Her lifelong project to represent counterculture and disregarded Black, indigenous and multiracial identities. She loves mangoes and hates advice.