RATIO’s latest collection elegantly distills the inspirations that guide Chinese, Tibetan-born designer and founder Shenghao Li: the balance between functionality and luxury, the tension between Chinese futurism and traditionalism, the danger implicit in the Asian immigrant experience, and the potential for transcendence within queer nightlife and club culture. 

Haunted by recent imagery of elderly Asian-Americans discovering their cars had been vandalized outside their homes, Li wanted to document the feeling of warped and violated metal within the bags’ materials by experimenting with new, leather-manipulation techniques. Bonding a thin layer of aluminum to the back of goatskin and patent leather resulted in a bendable, “crushed” leather that molds to the wearer’s body. Scuffing purple and silver leather with acetone-dipped sandpaper created the weathered, metallic look of Ratio’s “crash” leather, adding a touch of abject to the fab. 

Select pieces are screen printed with phrases from the classic Buddhist text, Heart Sutra, reminding us to detach from the emotional experience of the senses to move toward a higher state of awareness. For Li, this can be experienced in a club context, where RATIO’s bags are beloved for their unconventional attitude on dancefloors from New York to Berlin.

Thursday’s opening presents the REINCARNATION collection in an interactive, fine-art setting. The audience will be free to try on the six handbag styles, displayed in a white box gallery, with a sound installation made from vintage speakers and car-crash parts.  

With REINCARNATION, RATIO doubles down on its nightlife legacy by introducing Clutch, Double, and Club—smaller bags made for nights out in the big city. Additionally, the new collection reconceptualizes three versatile and spacious best-sellers: Equum, Solvit, and Solvit XL