5 Minutes with Sam Wagner, the Founder of Sambag

By Butterboom Writers  /  April 25, 2013

We caught up with the Aussie designer and business woman extraordinaire when she was last in town.


Sambag‘s unmissable turquoise shop landed in Hong Kong’s trendy PoHo district about six months ago.  It’s a little haven of Australian spirit, awash with bright colours, fabulous accessories and affordable essentials. Founder, Sam Wagner, was recently in town for a few days so we caught up with her to chat about everything from the very beginnings of the popular Aussie brand, all the way to salmon skin.

Sam originally started Sambag in 1997 as a side project, selling her bags on a stall at Sydney’s Paddington Markets. She had always loved fashion and was working in the industry, but it wasn’t until inspiration met her during a trip to New York that she decided to try her hand at designing.


Butterboom: How did Sambag came about?

Sam Wagner: The decision to expand from bags to shoes was a simple and organic one, “I always loved shoes. The first shoe I designed was the signature ballet flats, chosen because of their chic, timeless appeal, a choice that proved to be very wise indeed as Sambag’s footwear quickly overtook the bags in terms of popularity. Clothing was the last to join the team, around the same time time as the first store.


It wasn’t until 2005 that Sam went full time with Sambag and opened the turquoise doors to her first boutique in Woollahra, a leafy suburb of Sydney. The colour, she explained, was chosen because it is so calming; it captures the easy, effortlessness of Sambag and has now spread to the insoles of the shoes as well as the packaging, which itself is becoming something of a collectors item.

Butterboom: Why did you decide to open your first store in Hong Kong?

Sam Wagner: I know and love Hong Kong as I have travelled through here alot.  The PoHo is the perfect location for my new store after years of searching for the right place, this place  “just felt right”.



Butterboom: What are the perks of having a store in Hong Kong?

Sam Wagner: I like that i get to see next season’s products on the shelves before they have hit Aussie soil, as Hong Kong is a season ahead of Australia, so we sell everything in Hong Kong first before Australia.


Butterboom: What are your favourite pieces?

Sam Wagner: I am loving the simple and stunning flat metallic sandals and the ones with the retro 1920s inspired detailing.


Butterboom: What is Sambag’s special secret sauce?

Sam Wagner:  The appeal of Sambag lies in its chic, timeless appeal, quality materials and affordable pricing. The ballet flats, so comfortable that I practically lives in mine. They’re made from leather and other, more exotic, animal skins including snakeskin and salmon skin, which give really beautiful finishes. The store also carries jeans from Californian brand AG, gorgeous printed scarves from British accessories brand Lily and Lionel, and is the only place that you can get the vibrant, bohemian designs from emerging Australian designer, Camilla, in Hong Kong.


Butterboom: Have you ever imagined Sambag to be this successful?

Sam Wagner: No, not really.. I had maybe envisaged one store somewhere in Sydney but that was it. Well, we for one are glad that Sambag has been such a hit.



6 Po Yan Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Tel: 2968 1285


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