The Sambag online store.

Australian apparel and accessories brand Sambag is closing its doors after 22 years in business.

In a message to customers, founder Sam Wagner said the company would be closing in the coming months and thanked those who had supported her.

“Sambag has been an enormous part of my life for 22 years. It has been a rollercoaster—ups and downs, successes and failure, achievements and overcoming hurdles—and I have truly loved every minute of it,” she wrote.

“Sambag started with a passion for good-quality women’s accessories. I saw a gap in the market; few brands seemed to speak to the everyday woman. My vision was to create a brand with an authentic philosophy for stylish, affordable fashion that would effortlessly adhere to the everyday woman’s busy lifestyle.”

Sambag became known for its popular ballet flats.

Wagner started out selling tote bags through a stall at Sydney’s Paddington markets in 1996. She opened her first boutique in Woollahra in 2005 and expanded rapidly during the next decade, becoming better known for her signature ballet flats than bags.

By mid-2015, Sambag had an online store and a dozen boutiques across NSW, Victoria, Queensland, WA and Hong Kong, and sales across the group were averaging about $7 million a year.

But the growth was unsustainable and by 2017 Sambag had shut up shop in WA and Hong Kong and had closed two Melbourne stores and one of two Brisbane locations.

Speaking to the Wentworth Courier in January 2017, Wagner said retail had changed a lot in 20 years and admitted the business made the mistake of expanding into areas not suitable for its market.

“We’ve reduced our stores now … we’re looking at focusing on our key stores and online,” she said.

Sambag is now down to three physical locations—its Woollahra flagship, an outlet store in Sydney’s Rosebery and one store in Indooroopilly, Queensland—but this consolidation hasn’t been enough.

The retailer has informed its Facebook followers that the Woollahra location will shutter its doors on 15 April.


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