You’ll instantly know when you see a Boobag in the wild. They’re oversized, eye-catching totes that come in bold and unusual colourways and make your thin, beige cotton bag shrivel up with jealousy. The bags are seemingly covered in free-flowing swirls, but up close, you’ll see them for what they really are: boobs. Breasts are unabashedly splashed across every centimetre.
Melbourne-born Filipino Nicole Esquieres is the artist behind these cheeky designs. But to her, the bags represent more than just a playful drawing of breasts. “[They’re] a plethora of diverse and fearless women, sisters, leaders, pioneers — their freedom, solidarity and their amplified voices [are] bring[ing] about equality and social change,” she gushes to Refinery29 Australia.
Nicole’s passion is the lifeblood of the business. The 2017 Women’s March, a global protest the day after the Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, inspired Nicole to put her Fashion & Textiles education to work.
“I felt a wave of inspiration to produce abstract paintings of the women’s movement and one of those works became a textile print my friends wanted to wear. I found myself making bags for friends, friends of friends, work colleagues and so on,” she says. And so, Boobag was born. Each bag is made of 100% organic cotton canvas, and is designed, printed, cut, sewn, and hand made in Melbourne.
“During that time, I discovered a women-led organisation, the Global Women’s Project (GWP), and that was when my first collection was made. Every bag was designed to give back to Global Women’s Project mission and over time, Boo organically grew into what it is today.”
Global Women’s Project is an Australian non-profit that gives women around the world tools, resources, and information to help build better lives for their families and communities. That empowerment trickled down into Boo’s tote bag design.
"I thought [its size] would be the fastest way to catch [some]one’s eye, spark conversation and voice the print’s message,” Nicole shares. “But I also needed a bigger bag for uni, so I customised it to meet my own needs!”
But mid last year, Nicole decided to stop making Boobags because she was feeling so unmotivated. Before she threw in the towel, there was one thing she felt she had to do.
“I had this intuitive nudge that Boo still had some untapped potential. Out of nowhere, within a few hours I had a business proposal ready to go and pitched it over to the founder [of Lisa Says Gah] one night, who I’d been following for a while. Literally the next morning, I got a yes.”
From that flourished a collection of dresses, face masks, buttoned t-shirts, pants, and of course, tote bags. With over half a million Instagram followers, Lisa Says Gah is a big deal. The California-based studio specialises in stocking ultra-cool and sustainable small labels. To have Boobag on a large fashion platform was a big milestone for Nicole. To also have Lisa Says Gah donate 100% of the tote bag profits to the Loveland Foundation, an organisation that focuses on supporting communities of colour, meant that Nicole’s purpose was returning full circle.
People are paying attention to this Melbourne designer — people including Kendall Jenner, who has ordered from Nicole herself. A new product is in the works, too, so it seems that the boob tote might be here to stay a while longer.