These Filipino-Made Leather Utility Bags Will Upgrade Your Everyday Carry
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 a
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.
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
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.
Tell us more about the three bags.
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 chest—perfect 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 Jakall—Jack of all trades—is 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.
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
What else should we look forward to
from your new line?
V.Goods is available at Viktor Jeans, Greenbelt 5, Makati.