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Designer Sam Wagner On Sambag, Style & Shoes

Designer Sam Wagner On Sambag, Style & Shoes

A pioneer of bespoke ballet flats in Australia, the brand continues to go from strength to strength, with every chic step it takes.

From humble market beginnings (notably the very same market Zimmermann, Collette Dinnigan and Dinosaur Designs used as their sartorial launchpad), the Sambag brand is now synonymous with classic leather handbags, effortless resort wear and of course, ballet flats.

We caught up with designer and founder, Sam Wagner, to chat about style, being social media savvy and shoes (naturally).

sambag resort campaign
A stunning snap from the Resort campaign


Congrats on a successful 20 years in fashion! How did Sambag begin?

I launched the brand in 1996 following a trip to New York where I created a small bag range which I sold in the Paddington Markets. This gave me the motivation to further my business. I very quickly developed a strong customer base and eventually extended onto shoe wear and later apparel.

Why ballet flats?

Ballets are a classic wardrobe staple worn by women of every age group. They are a trans-seasonal flat which can be worn all year round, an investment shoe which never dates. Our timeless ballets are the heart and sole of the company coming in three key styles to suit all differently shaped feet. We try our best to cater to everyone, to all our customers providing options whether you have a narrow foot, wide foot or somewhere in the middle, we have got you covered.

How do you think the fashion industry has changed in two decades?

The fashion industry has changed immensely, there are so many international mass brands to compete with. You really have to be an individual and unique to contend with these giant retailers. Customers are far more price conscious and online has grown rapidly over the years leading to more competition in the market place.

sambag dress
Sambag’s timeless pieces


How important is social media to your brand now?

Extremely important! It’s almost a full time job, my team are constantly coming up with inspiring images, style advice, and intriguing blog post to keep our customers interested. You need to be creative, constantly work on new exciting content to stay relevant.

If you could give one piece of advice to upcoming designers, what would it be?

Stay true to your brand and know your customer.

How would you describe your style?

I would say my style is a balance of being both relaxed and sophisticated. I live quite a busy lifestyle and need good quality, simple pieces which can be worn from desk to dinner. My wardrobe consists of silks, denims, structured blazers and of course my forever growing ballet collection.

If you could wear only one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Simplicity is key. Jeans with a cotton T-shirt, a cashmere knit and a pair of my signature ballets.

What does your wardrobe consist of? And what can’t you leave the house without?

My wardrobe mainly consists of my collection of classic Sambag ballets preferably Tina as they suit my foot shape perfectly. I live in jeans and always try to leave the house in one of my favourite styles. Whether it’s ripped, skinny or straight legged, I have a jean to suit most occasions.

sambag dress
Effortless luxury by Sambag


What is your go to beauty look?

I’m all for a natural look. I love a clear, fresh face with a touch of pink blush matched with an earthy coloured lip gloss.

Any beauty tips you swear by?

I am obsessed with beauty Clarins Flash Balm, it always gives me the ultimate pick me up when my skin is feeling dull and helps restore the skin’s youthful glow.

 Finish this sentence, “To me, fashion is…”

… an expression of your identity, a creative outlet which you can incorporate into your daily life.

sambag sam wagner resort
A stunning image of the Sambag resort collection

Written by Chrisanthi Kaliviotis

With her lyrical turn of phrase and penchant for uber-glamour, Chrisanthi Kaliviotis is in her element writing about beauty for The Carousel, while weaving in fun fashion and pop culture references. She also loves a road test, so we send many of the new hair tools that arrive her way (she actually knows how to use them). Have you seen that hair?


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