Behind The Collection: La Vita



Introducing the culmination of our ethos and aesthetic; introducing La Vita.

A curation of 37 premium pieces, our SS23 collection integrates precision metalwork and visual innovation.

La Vita is crafted entirely from certified recycled silver and gold vermeil, with the addition of stone elements and stylistic details. All materials are ethically sourced and traceable, meeting our evolving standards as they relate to our maxim: ‘Make Few, Design Well’.

As you browse the collection and explore cutting edge details crafted by committed hands, enjoy this sit down with Banksy to learn about the motivation and sensibility behind La Vita.


 

Q: Starting with your latest drop, La Vita. Can you tell us about what influenced the collection?
MB: There are a few things that inspired me when I was designing, and it has been a work in progress for most of this year. I've had pieces designed from as early as January while I was in Japan, up until pieces that were designed about a week before drop.

I have been reading a lot of philosophy lately and was inspired the Greek stoics such as Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and others. The goal was really to embody some of their teachings and ideas into certain motifs and symbols. Additionally, I have always been fascinated by ancient Rome and its contributions to almost every aspect of modern western culture. So, it’s kind of been a crossroads of these two overarching concepts. I feel like they do go hand in hand. Jewellery has this powerful way of immortalising anecdotes, and capturing the essence of human experiences and emotions. This collection is an artistic representation of our shared histories, a tribute to the enduring power of storytelling through jewellery.



Q: On that note, this year has been huge for you with collaborations - what makes working with other creatives so special?
I love working collaboratively because you get such fresh and different perspectives, whether that's through campaign imagery, I think looking at different creatives and their strengths and leveraging their strengths to help convey a different perspective on my jewellery. I think it’s just about appreciating the essence of creativity and championing those talents and those skills through different creatives. That's why I enjoy working collaboratively with artists, because I get to see so many different specialties.

I think working for so long in creativity and design and photography, I've started to appreciate that creativity isn't just this cloud that everyone has. I feel like it's almost a lot more niche and narrow, and everyone has that more distinguishable avenue of creativity that they put out, whether that's for our customers and through the way that they sell and stack up pieces, or if it's through a photographer and the way that they edit their photos. I think everyone has that small, distinguishable strength of creativity, and I really enjoy bringing that to life with people.

Q: La Vita is your most diverse collection so far in terms of shapes, textures, stones and more, what drove this experimentation?
For me, La Vita feels like the capstone project. It feels like the first collection I've officially designed, in a weird way. I think maybe a lot of people might misinterpret that because I've been running Merchants now for three to four years, but in this weird way, it feels like the most finished collection we have ever done. Everything up until that point was smaller projects and smaller collections, and I definitely often put out pieces and collections and wish I’d added this piece of tweaked this, knowing the potential of what I could do but never fully hitting that.

For the first time, La Vita does that across all the products. I feel like there's enough variety in there that someone will find something they're going to love within this collection. But I also feel like it goes back to our roots and our very first couple of collections, such as Mirage and Year One, and the early Sunwalker and Envy. I feel like those pieces really fall into the categories of simple but timeless.

When we first launched, we had incorporated a lot of gemstones into our pieces, like Tiger's Eye, Turquoise and Onyx. I moved away from that in the last couple of years as I haven’t been able to ethically source gemstones, and I don’t feel comfortable selling gemstones that I didn't know where they’ve come from. That was the main reason why I had moved away from incorporating gemstones into my pieces, but it was something that our community has always loved and requested. But I've been working closely with a gem supplier in India who is a lot more transparent around where our gemstones are sourced from and can guarantee that they are ethical and they don't come from conflict zones, which is hugely important to me.

I do love incorporating color, I love incorporating gemstones, and I feel like they add another facet to jewellery design and so much more opportunity for creativity. As far as gemstones go, I've been trialling and testing a lot of different variations, and I'm really excited to bring it back into one of our main features of Merchants.

 


Q: On that note, this year has been huge for you with collaborations - what makes working with other creatives so special?
I love working collaboratively because you get such fresh and different perspectives, whether that's through campaign imagery, I think looking at different creatives and their strengths and leveraging their strengths to help convey a different perspective on my jewellery. I think it’s just about appreciating the essence of creativity and championing those talents and those skills through different creatives. That's why I enjoy working collaboratively with artists, because I get to see so many different specialties.

I think working for so long in creativity and design and photography, I've started to appreciate that creativity isn't just this cloud that everyone has. I feel like it's almost a lot more niche and narrow, and everyone has that more distinguishable avenue of creativity that they put out, whether that's for our customers and through the way that they sell and stack up pieces, or if it's through a photographer and the way that they edit their photos. I think everyone has that small, distinguishable strength of creativity, and I really enjoy bringing that to life with people.

Q: La Vita is your most diverse collection so far in terms of shapes, textures, stones and more, what drove this experimentation?
For me, La Vita feels like the capstone project. It feels like the first collection I've officially designed, in a weird way. I think maybe a lot of people might misinterpret that because I've been running Merchants now for three to four years, but in this weird way, it feels like the most finished collection we have ever done. Everything up until that point was smaller projects and smaller collections, and I definitely often put out pieces and collections and wish I’d added this piece of tweaked this, knowing the potential of what I could do but never fully hitting that.

For the first time, La Vita does that across all the products. I feel like there's enough variety in there that someone will find something they're going to love within this collection. But I also feel like it goes back to our roots and our very first couple of collections, such as Mirage and Year One, and the early Sunwalker and Envy. I feel like those pieces really fall into the categories of simple but timeless.

When we first launched, we had incorporated a lot of gemstones into our pieces, like Tiger's Eye, Turquoise and Onyx. I moved away from that in the last couple of years as I haven’t been able to ethically source gemstones, and I don’t feel comfortable selling gemstones that I didn't know where they’ve come from. That was the main reason why I had moved away from incorporating gemstones into my pieces, but it was something that our community has always loved and requested. But I've been working closely with a gem supplier in India who is a lot more transparent around where our gemstones are sourced from and can guarantee that they are ethical and they don't come from conflict zones, which is hugely important to me.

I do love incorporating color, I love incorporating gemstones, and I feel like they add another facet to jewellery design and so much more opportunity for creativity. As far as gemstones go, I've been trialling and testing a lot of different variations, and I'm really excited to bring it back into one of our main features of Merchants.

 

Q: As one of your biggest drops yet, can you tell us about how you approached the creation of La Vita?
Product development, particularly when it comes to chains, has been a core focus for me over the past six to twelve months. Earlier in the year, we were facing a few quality issues with our pendant chains, and we also had constant stock outs with certain variations. This was a particular area that I really wanted to pour a lot of my product design effort into and work closely with manufacturing on.

Through constant iterations and tweaks, we've managed to create something that I'm extremely happy with. Not only from designing our custom links for the Quadrata Chain to precision engineering our handmade clasps, the array of chains are probably one of my favourite features of this collection.

Furthermore, we also went on multiple sourcing trips to really nail each style. I also handpicked chain variations that I felt complemented each pendant design. We've never really done that in the past, instead always using two stock standard chains for most of our pendants, some of which were probably a little too thin. When I had really gone into looking at chain links, I was looking at thickness especially to pair the chain as best as I could with each pendant design of La Vita. I also have a goal here to sell each new chain individually, which will probably be coming in a second drop.

Overall, I believe with jewellery design and creating a premium product, things like custom links and engineered clasps, they're the areas that are really going to set the mark or the gold standard for jewellery.

Q: So, it’s the small details that make a chain what it is?
Yeah. There's so many different variations of chain links, and I’ve been exploring those differences and looking at how they pair nicely with a pendant. If you have a square pendant, you're probably going to be wanting to look for a square chain link. If you have a thinner pendant or a more minimal pendant, you're probably going to want to use a thinner chain. With that in mind, I’ve been trying as best as possible to complement each new pendant design.

I think we still have a lot to do in regards to our chains but, even in the last six months, I feel we’ve made massive strides. I’ve got a sourcing trip to Japan booked for early next year which I think will, again, step up our game.

Q: How would you describe product development from your perspective - is it quality plus sustainability?
That’s it. Aesthetics is also super important; obviously, that's always a focus area for me. I think for the aesthetics of our pieces, we've always gone for a more simple, stripped back design aesthetic. We’ve always applied the approach of less is more, but we’ve gone for some more intricate pieces with the La Vita collection, which I’m loving. I’m trying also not to put my self in a box with my product design and product exploration. If I’m inspired by a certain piece of art or architecture or pattern, I’m exploring that without stressing too much about whether it’s falling within the constraints of minimalism.

Q: As one of your biggest drops yet, can you tell us about how you approached the creation of La Vita?
Product development, particularly when it comes to chains, has been a core focus for me over the past six to twelve months. Earlier in the year, we were facing a few quality issues with our pendant chains, and we also had constant stock outs with certain variations. This was a particular area that I really wanted to pour a lot of my product design effort into and work closely with manufacturing on.

Through constant iterations and tweaks, we've managed to create something that I'm extremely happy with. Not only from designing our custom links for the Quadrata Chain to precision engineering our handmade clasps, the array of chains are probably one of my favourite features of this collection.

Furthermore, we also went on multiple sourcing trips to really nail each style. I also handpicked chain variations that I felt complemented each pendant design. We've never really done that in the past, instead always using two stock standard chains for most of our pendants, some of which were probably a little too thin. When I had really gone into looking at chain links, I was looking at thickness especially to pair the chain as best as I could with each pendant design of La Vita. I also have a goal here to sell each new chain individually, which will probably be coming in a second drop.

Overall, I believe with jewellery design and creating a premium product, things like custom links and engineered clasps, they're the areas that are really going to set the mark or the gold standard for jewellery.

Q: So, it’s the small details that make a chain what it is?
Yeah. There's so many different variations of chain links, and I’ve been exploring those differences and looking at how they pair nicely with a pendant. If you have a square pendant, you're probably going to be wanting to look for a square chain link. If you have a thinner pendant or a more minimal pendant, you're probably going to want to use a thinner chain. With that in mind, I’ve been trying as best as possible to complement each new pendant design.

I think we still have a lot to do in regards to our chains but, even in the last six months, I feel we’ve made massive strides. I’ve got a sourcing trip to Japan booked for early next year which I think will, again, step up our game.

Q: How would you describe product development from your perspective - is it quality plus sustainability?
That’s it. Aesthetics is also super important; obviously, that's always a focus area for me. I think for the aesthetics of our pieces, we've always gone for a more simple, stripped back design aesthetic. We’ve always applied the approach of less is more, but we’ve gone for some more intricate pieces with the La Vita collection, which I’m loving. I’m trying also not to put my self in a box with my product design and product exploration. If I’m inspired by a certain piece of art or architecture or pattern, I’m exploring that without stressing too much about whether it’s falling within the constraints of minimalism.

Q: As one of your biggest drops yet, can you tell us about how you approached the creation of La Vita?
Product development, particularly when it comes to chains, has been a core focus for me over the past six to twelve months. Earlier in the year, we were facing a few quality issues with our pendant chains, and we also had constant stock outs with certain variations. This was a particular area that I really wanted to pour a lot of my product design effort into and work closely with manufacturing on.

Through constant iterations and tweaks, we've managed to create something that I'm extremely happy with. Not only from designing our custom links for the Quadrata Chain to precision engineering our handmade clasps, the array of chains are probably one of my favourite features of this collection.

Furthermore, we also went on multiple sourcing trips to really nail each style. I also handpicked chain variations that I felt complemented each pendant design. We've never really done that in the past, instead always using two stock standard chains for most of our pendants, some of which were probably a little too thin. When I had really gone into looking at chain links, I was looking at thickness especially to pair the chain as best as I could with each pendant design of La Vita. I also have a goal here to sell each new chain individually, which will probably be coming in a second drop.

Overall, I believe with jewellery design and creating a premium product, things like custom links and engineered clasps, they're the areas that are really going to set the mark or the gold standard for jewellery.

Q: So, it’s the small details that make a chain what it is?
Yeah. There's so many different variations of chain links, and I’ve been exploring those differences and looking at how they pair nicely with a pendant. If you have a square pendant, you're probably going to be wanting to look for a square chain link. If you have a thinner pendant or a more minimal pendant, you're probably going to want to use a thinner chain. With that in mind, I’ve been trying as best as possible to complement each new pendant design.

I think we still have a lot to do in regards to our chains but, even in the last six months, I feel we’ve made massive strides. I’ve got a sourcing trip to Japan booked for early next year which I think will, again, step up our game.

Q: How would you describe product development from your perspective - is it quality plus sustainability?
That’s it. Aesthetics is also super important; obviously, that's always a focus area for me. I think for the aesthetics of our pieces, we've always gone for a more simple, stripped back design aesthetic. We’ve always applied the approach of less is more, but we’ve gone for some more intricate pieces with the La Vita collection, which I’m loving. I’m trying also not to put my self in a box with my product design and product exploration. If I’m inspired by a certain piece of art or architecture or pattern, I’m exploring that without stressing too much about whether it’s falling within the constraints of minimalism.

Q: Do you have any top picks from La Vita?
I hate to pick favourites because I think they're all amazing in their own right, and I feel like a dad who’s picking his favourite kid.

I think rings wise, I absolutely love the Orbit Signet with a Red Garnet. I'm so stoked to introduce that to the world, but I'm going to have to say the Seneca Signet is my winner of the collection. I think the Quadrata chain is also very understated; I'm really excited to release that because it just feels like such a finished product, a labour of love.

Q: How would you describe your style to someone who's never seen Merchants before?
It's so hard for me to articulate that, but I think in a lot of ways, Merchants always resembles my own personal style and tastes. As that has changed over the years, from growing up in Byron and Bali and being a surfer to being inspired by fashion and street wear and creating premium products. That is what I would say my vision is for Merchants, to be a premium quality jewellery brand that does have its roots set in the coastal lifestyle, but is still very much an urban street wear brand.

Q: What does La Vita mean for you in terms of that brand evolution?
I come back to the fact that I feel like this La Vita is the capstone project for Merchants of the Sun. These last three, four years have been such a learning process for not just myself, but my very young team. We're finally coming into our own, finding our authentic self and our authentic personality, and I'm really excited to lean into who we are and what we're about and create some really exciting collections in 2024.

Shop the collection from Tuesday, 21 November 2023. Sign up for news here.


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