First, it should work. Zipper, handle, straps, a good-sized space to stow your belongings, maybe in leather or canvas or a magic material that will resist the mayhem of life. That's what you need. Something that will render your hands free and, of course, take your very important things (your vape?), from one point (home) to the next (car) to the next (place of business) to the next (place of play), all in a dignified manner.
Lyndon Cormack, co-founder and managing director of Herschel Supply Co., agrees: “We start with functionality.” When designing a bag, they strip away the bells and whistles to “get down to the fundamentals of what's really needed.” And that often means the very, very simple things like the ability to store tiny things separately or a sleeve that will hold your laptop like a baby.
After usability, fun follows: details, colors, those signature liners that adorn the insides of these bags. The visuals are important because the men who choose Herschel crave beautiful design. “They have a good sense of style,” reports Lyndon. “They like fashion, but they like to celebrate individuality and not be like everyone else.”
Combining the requirements of usefulness and the need for uniqueness results in a diverse portfolio of bags. There are 24 kinds of backpacks alone, and then countless styles within that category, and then also smaller versions of the bags. And if you are tempted to make a quip about little people right now, minis were, in fact, created to accommodate different body types, small included, and also different activities. Maybe you are a compact person who enjoys weekend adventures like a picnic?
But back to what works: To improve the fundamental, Herschel develops new technologies. There is the assembly of products through heat welding in lieu of plain ol’ stitching. “It creates interesting lines and allows us to use materials that you don't normally use like tarpaulin or rubber,” he explains. Their Studio Collection employs the technique to piece together tarpaulin parts with gently rounded swoops that terminate in neat edges. Very city.
It falls on Lyndon to try out the tech or prototypes through the real-world laboratory called extensive business travel. He has come up with his own way of using his Herschels, the bag-in-a-bag system. “I'm a big fan of our pouches. The one I carry is quite big, the Network Extra Large. I just dump everything in. When I need something, I reach in [my bag] and pull it out,” he says. The same goes for totes. He has one tote with workout gear, another for undergarments, and still another for toiletries—and all these are packed in a bigger bag.
But out of all the details, the striped liner is his favorite. Herschel enthusiasts know that the fabric, usually in red and white, is a tribute to Lyndon’s grandfather. The accessories company is named after the Canadian town that has been home to generations of Cormacks. “My grandfather was the manager of the grain elevator in Herschel. Every single day at work, he'd wear an engineered striped work outfit,” he says. And now, what was a memory has become part of the company’s story.
That’s another thing about creating a bag, a wallet, a cap, or any tangible product. The best way (and the most fun way) to do it is by “finding the stories that have passion and translating those through design.” Lyndon knows there are a lot of stories in the world that are yet to be explored. These bags can help you find yours.
GRIND, SneakPeek, Bratpack, The Travel Club, Rustan's