Co-founder of A-list approved sustainable, vegan bag brand JW PEI Stephanie Li talks success, ambition and special Eid collection

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We’re ready to bet you’ve seen their bags around, probably on Hailey Bieber or Kendall Jenner. JW PEI is the Los Angeles-based brand created by a husband and wife duo that decided to put fashionable, minimalist designs in vegan leather and sustainability at the forefront. Modern, fun, certified fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, what is there more to ask? JDEED spoke to Stephanie Li, co-founder of the brand to know more about their rapid growth, ambitions and their Eid Collection.

By Cynthia Jreige

The special Eid Collection Rantan bag

Can you tell us a bit about how JW PEI started and what the idea was behind the brand?

Stephanie Li (SL): When we launched JW PEI, back in 2018, we wanted to create a cool vegan fashion brand that’s accessible to modern women without sacrificing quality. We felt that the fashion industry needed something sustainable, desirable, and inclusive. Luckily, we were soon loved by influencers all over the world on Instagram and recognized by British Vogue as “The 10 Best Vegan Bags of 2018”. The Middle East is such an exciting market for us! We are thrilled to see women across the world connect to what we do. We can’t wait to collaborate with local artists and influencers to create some cool projects and content together

Success happened so fast and is going strong! What would you say was a key moment for the brand?

SL: Seeing people wearing our bags on the street in Paris, at brunch in Soho NYC, and in the Middle East is a very inspiring moment for our team. When Emily Ratajkowski carried our Gabbi bag in various colors on four different occasions, we were like “OMG we are onto something”!

The Gabbi

The Gabbi is officially an IT bag – was that ever the plan or did it happen naturally?

SF: We knew from the start that Gabbi would do well as it’s not only trendy and chic but also so easy to wear. I remembered the whole team was so excited to see the street-style images from NYFW when we first launched Gabbi. We thought it was so cool to see how people style the bag differently and incorporate it into their looks. But we didn’t expect all the IT girls would start picking up the style – Irina Shayk being the first one, followed by Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Bieber, Gigi Hadid, and Megan Fox wearing it during NYFW. We felt so happy and flattered, and it all just happened so fast!

“The limited-edition Eid collection pays homage to the elegance of the Middle Eastern woman.”

How would you define your customers in the Middle East? Do they tend to go for specific styles?

SL: From our point of view, the Middle Eastern clientele are classier and more elegant, and they appreciate new styles and good quality. Although our signature Gabbi bag is our worldwide best-seller, the Rantan bag has been extremely popular in the region. That’s why we launched an exclusive EID collection of these dazzling mini Rantan’s.

JW PEI’s Eid Collection

The Eid collection is beautiful; Could you tell us more about the inspiration behind it?

SL: We wanted to create something extra to help our customers to stand out on any occasion. The limited-edition Eid collection pays homage to the elegance of the Middle Eastern woman; reimagining the iconic Rantan bag in a glitzing palette, crafted with vegan leather that caters to the region’s elegant taste. The gold and silver hardware infuses a dose of Middle Eastern glam to the brand’s signature appeal; elevating these daytime silhouettes into versatile essentials that easily transition from day to night.

What are the ultimate goals and hopes for JW PEI?

SL: One ambition has always been to be more sustainable. We are looking to use more than 50% recycled material in our future collection. In addition, we are planning to collaborate with local artists and influencers in the Middle East and launch more categories.

JW PEI’s co-founder Stephanie Li