16 Filipino Brands that Make the Best Bags for Commuting

Upgrade your everyday carry with these homegrown brands.
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/ @akabaco @gouachebags

When looking for the best bags for commuting to work, consider local brands. While fast fashion still dominates much of the market, homegrown labels are disrupting the game with products that showcase the high level of craftsmanship of Filipino artisans. Many of these brands support their own community of craftsmen, too, giving locals sustainable livelihood while preserving age-old techniques that have been passed down through generations.  

Rather than paying for mass-produced products with subpar materials, invest in small-batch goods crafted with care. Here, we focus on local bagmakers that will make your daily commute easier and more stylish.  

1| Gouache 

Gouache started with a crowd-sourced waxed canvas camera bag, but now has a complete range of products for urban dwellers, creatives, and outdoor adventurers. Its waxed canvas is the perfect material for the harsh conditions and constant rains of the city. The textile also makes each bag unique as it will develop a patina as it ages.



2| FINO Leatherware 

In the leather goods business for two decades now, Fino has grown into a strong local brand with about 10 stores around Metro Manila. The company, which began as a maker of leather briefcases for men, has since diversified into many styles and forms. Whatever you choose, there’s no mistaking the craftsmanship of its artisans. 


3| Nomadic Tendencies 

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Describing itself as borderless and Japanese-inspired, Nomadic Tendencies offers a practical and minimalist aesthetic that makes it perfect for both the jet-setter and the pavement pounder. Its initial collection came in black, white, gray and olive, but the brand now has bags in blue camo, too. 


4| The Tannery Manila 

Tannery Manila has been four generations in the making. The first three grew the business as an industrial supplier of tanned materials; the fourth ventured into making its own leather goods. Tannery's bags are made with high-quality leather hides sourced from all over the country and assembled in its compound in Bulacan. It also keeps itself updated by working with different technicians from countries such as Spain.


5| AKABA Co.


Founded in 2014, this social enterprise has quickly become one of the best independent brands that bridges cultural heritage with contemporary sensibilities. Akaba immersed itself in years of research and community development before creating its line of artisanal bags. With products made by local artisans using only materials sourced from the Philippines, the brand has also helped revive the fading weaving practices of various regions. Check out the backpacks made of different local textiles such as inabel, sinaluan, and ramit.


6| School of Satchel 

With a focus on the ethics of creating leather goods, School of Satchel ensures fair trade for its artisans; it also provides further training for them. Aside from satchels, the label offers other objects for men such as tote bags, laptop bags, an everyday clutch, and a holster seat.


7| Bags by Rubbertree 



Husband-and-wife duo Ruben and Trina Flores use their backgrounds in studio arts and industrial design to create functional bags with a minimalist aesthetic. The brand places a premium on technique and process—its leather products are all hand-cut and hand-stitched for that personal touch. For work bags for commuting, there are the Backpack Tote, the Classic Messenger, and the Weekender. 


8| Ni Qua 

What to know about Ni Qua? It was founded by husband-and-wife team, Migs and Bunnie de Guzman; it provides sustainable livelihood to artisans in Marikina; and its products mainly use materials from the country. Check out the Telaio Caso, a slim, modern version of the briefcase in charcoal or dark mustard for the office. Don't forget to request your monogram to be stamped on your bag. 


9| Abre Linea 


In the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, Abre Linea was founded by high school friends Anne Tuazon, Claude Canete, and Joy Yu. The trio created the social enterprise to help affected weaving communities in Leyte and Samar by providing them with livelihood. Together with these weavers, the company developed bags using indigenous materials such as ticog grass and buri palm leaves. The El Grande backpack, for instance, is a smart carryall with a woven ticog grass body and leather accents. 


10| Gugu 


This social enterprise, which started as a school project in 2010, brought traditionally handwoven jute backpacks to the mainstream. Gugu bags are woven by Bicolano artisans and thus help preserve the weaving culture of the province (fun fact: the name Gugu was taken from the main deity of Bicolano mythology, Gugurang). Get your hands on the Intramuros Backpack or Remastered Khaki for that classic look. 


11| Lagalag 


If hiking up mountains or braving the outdoors is your thing, then consider a rig by local outdoor company Lagalag. A favorite of mountaineers, geologists, and cyclists, it produces its own outdoor apparel and accessories, including lightweight hydration backpacks that can withstand the elements. 

SM City North Edsa, Quezon City 

12| Punchdrunk Panda 

Photo by FACEBOOK/ @PunchdrunkPandaInc.

It's fun and bold with a touch of weird—and we mean that in the best way. Punchdrunk Panda bags are lightweight, portable, and come in various bright and youthful designs. Venturing beyond quirky patterns, the brand has also partnered with Anthill Fabric to come up with the Ramit Mangyan Duffel Bag, which features ramit textile woven by the Mangyan community.


13| Straightforward 



Straightforward is a local retail brand known for a clean, minimalist, and well, straightforward aesthetic. Its products run the gamut from shirts to caps, shorts to socks. Check out the Resilient Fiber Commuter Bag. The body bag with concealed pockets is perfect for the urban dweller braving daily commutes. 


14| Zero Gravity 


Zero Gravity was established with the everyday commuter in mind. Now, it has grown to include luggage essentials for different needs. Its Classic Black Panorama Rucksack, for example, is a sleek thing that will hold all your stuff. The inexpensive price makes it an ideal choice for students or for those looking for affordable bags for commuting.


15| Handcrafted by Harl’s 


This leathergoods brand is based in Laguna, but you may have caught it at some point at the Legazpi Sunday Market. Its bags have a vintage feel, a relaxed silhouette, and natural leather grain. Its version of the everyman’s carryall is a multipurpose upgrade: Use it as a laptop bag, a camera bag, or even a diaper bag. Handcrafted by Harl’s also provides livelihood to PWDs. 


16| Evrile 

Behind the name Evrile is this little nugget in local history: In the '80s, Evrile was a local company that exported Philippine coffee to the world. Now, second-generation owner C.P. Asuncion has re-appropriated the company's name for bags and other goods constructed from coffee sacks. The sustainable fashion label also plants a coffee tree for every bag sold. 


What bags are best for commuting? 

Rigs that can haul all your gear while on a commute are a must. These are built with sturdy materials, but come in a silhouette that won’t look out of place in an office. Backpacks and duffels are best for weekend warriors or those who carry a lot of stuff. Crossbody bags and messenger satchels are for men who want the security of having their luggage close to their person. Satchels are for the option for those who lug around a laptop and desk essentials.

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Sam Beltran
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