Fashion

These Filipino-Made Leather Utility Bags Will Upgrade Your Everyday Carry

V.Goods offers compact bags with street-wear sensibilities for conquering the city.
IMAGE Ino Caluza
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Some 15 years after Viktor, the bespoke Filipino denim brand, was launched, designer Ino Caluza introduces V.Goods, a new line of utilitarian leather bags with a streetwear-inspired look.  

These sartorial additions to your everyday carry feature a subtle edge in their aesthetic, but there’s no denying their practical qualities for traversing the urban jungle. Unlike the commuter bags that young professionals lug around, the bags are smaller and more compact with multiple pockets and just the right amount of space for your daily gear.  

“The idea is to come up with a modern version of a man’s purse, basically a small bag that you can carry around without the cumbersome quality of a backpack or messenger bag,” says Caluza.  

The appeal of keeping your most valued items close to your person has attracted a tribe of urban yuppies, particularly creative types. “My very first clients were my architect friends. The Jagnus Design Studio’s staff and associates have the Jakall regular and mini as their de facto office bag," the designer shares. "The early adopters, as usual, are from the fashion industry, including stylists, models, and celebrities.”

V.Goods currently has three designs: the Ramr, a crossbody belt bag for the young and mobile streetwear fan; the Jakall, a mini duffel that’s increasingly become a favorite among the nine-to-five set; and the Viggo chest bag, which is great for the traveler.

Like the custom jeans of Viktor, the bags are created with quality materials and meticulous attention to detail. And unlike versions from fast retail brands, they are crafted, not with flimsier materials such as nylon, canvas, or leatherette, but with genuine leather, which ensures a solid build. What's more, if you’re hell-bent on personalizing these bags, there are many leather styles to choose from, as well as inner linings and other hardware details. 

Esquire spoke with the denim master to learn more about V.Goods, the cool utility bags that deserve a spot in your closet. 

Photo by Ino Caluza.

You’re known for bespoke jeans. What lead you to bags?

Last year, I realized that most of the time, I needed the convenience of a small bag where I can put my daily essentials like my wallet, phone, car keys, etc. I started buying different types of bags like belt bags, fanny packs, side bags, sling bags, and small crossover bag. But I wasn’t happy about their fabrication and style and the limited choices. For me, they weren't premium enough, as well.  

Just like when I decided to commit myself to fabricating nice-fitting jeans 15 years ago, I decided to research what type of bags and materials I can use to create a new line of accessories for my brand, thus Viktor Goods or V.Goods was born. 

Why did you choose to keep the bags small?

Since I am not the type who brings a bag to work on a daily basis, I wanted to design bags that are ideal for your daily routine and can be used everywhere, from your workplace to a night out. I wanted a tiny bag that is also perfect to carry your passport and essentials when traveling abroad.

With these in my mind, I wanted it to be customizable just like my jeans. You can choose from more than 50 plus different leathers, inside linings, and hardware of black, gold, and silver tones.

How did you come up with the design of the bags?

We worked on research and design for about six months. I enlisted the help of Will Mueco, who has long been doing our leather tote bags and accessories for the shop. We created different prototypes and experimented with a lot of leather materials until we came up with the three initial types of bags we have right now. 

Photo by Ino Caluza.
Photo by Ino Caluza.

Tell us more about the three bags.

The Jakall sling bag is a tiny duffel bag that comes in three sizes: mini, regular, and XL. I chose the duffel bag silhouette after I realized that most of the bags I own are military-style with a cylindrical shape. I like the simple shape of the regular duffle bag; it is basic but looks modern, as well. 

The Ramr crossover body bag comes in three sizes, as well, with an option for an extra zipper on its exterior. The fanny pack or bum bag has come back to popularity, revived as a fashionable accessory for men and women in recent years. Its utilitarian style makes it the favorite accessory and staple for streetwear types. It's perfect for out-of-town trips, music festivals, and nights out, hopping from one bar to another. Its leather construction elevates it from the normal canvas and nylon versions that have become predominant on the market. 

The third style is the Viggo chest bag, with a design based on a bulletproof vest and a life vest. I call it the theft-proof bag since the bag is worn on your chestperfect for traveling abroad. It's a good complement to a basic white tee or shirt, too. 

Where did you get the inspiration for your designs?  

Form follows function. The Viggo was inspired by the idea that it can be a sort of protection like a bulletproof vest. Thus the shape was formed in consideration that it should be worn close to the chest. That lung-like shape is also a visual play on a chest rig. At the same time, the shape makes it easier to access the inside pockets.  

The JakallJack of all tradesis for me the most versatile among the three bags. Just like its rugged inspiration, it can be used daily and worn in many ways. It is the anti “it” bag. I sometimes use it as my small gym bag to carry my phones, wallets, keys, and a small bottle of water.

Why did you choose leather in particular for your bags?

From the beginning, I knew I’d be using leather for the bags as I realized that the majority of bags I’ve tried were only offered in nylon, canvas, or leatherette—the worst.

Leather is the best material for these bags because of its sturdy quality and premium appeal. Leather is meant to be tossed around and used on a daily basis, so high-quality cow leather was our first choice. All of the customizable fabrics available for our bags are made with cow leather. 

Leather is like denim in a lot of aspects—it’s very durable and it looks better the more it is used. There is a sense of history you get just by looking at its patina over the years. The sheer amount of options for the colors and textures for the leather, especially for the patent ones can be dizzying sometimes, but it makes the customizable aspect fun, as well. It makes your bag unique and personalized. 

Photo by Ino Caluza.
Photo by Ino Caluza.

What other things did you take into consideration for the construction of the bags?

When it comes to other features, we incorporated some of the same details found in our premium jeans. With the Jakall’s inner linings, we adopted our premium Japanese selvedge denim. Meanwhile, for Ramr and Viggo, we used technical nylons. The nylon straps were also considered for its long-lasting quality. All of our hardware is rust-proof and comes in three colors. 

What else should we look forward to from your new line?

V.Goods will be offering a lot of new products this year that will complement our bespoke jeans like caps and hats, key chains, leather tote bags, small backpacks, sling bags, and gym bags. We might come up with the smallest version of Jakall soon, the Jakall micro. We'll be collaborating with like-minded creative for our limited-edition Jakall bags, too.

V.Goods is available at Viktor Jeans, Greenbelt 5, Makati.

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