Working to create the perfect everyday bag
Have you ever looked at your bag first thing in the afternoon and thought, I really hate that bag? It’s falling apart, there’s half of what used to be a banana ‘somewhere’ in there, and what is that strap for*? No? Well I did… *a pickaxe
I’ve worked behind the scenes in the fashion industry since leaving university in 2004. There have been a million pivotal moments in my career, but for this project, I’m going to blame 2; getting involved with bags & leather when I worked for sometime ‘it’ girl Tabitha Somerset-Webb and playing with denim development at Motel.
February (2014) I am in a position to design something new, a new bag project, for me. The perfect bag, a bag that suits my style, my ideals, simple bags for simple people. Something robust, a bag that is strong and uncomplicated, something that has enough design to doff a polite cap to, but never shouts. A bag that could be repaired, grow distinguished with use… my god, a bag that didn’t fall apart nor have ‘things’ that didn’t have a purpose. A bag that is a bit like my favourite coat that people keep telling me to chuck, a bag that is a bag.
So what next?
I realised I was never going to solve the puzzle of the errant fruit, some may say Tupperware have that covered – if you’ll pardon the pun. I started to gather ideas, creating in the process my negative mantra:
- I didn’t want to climb Everest and face -20ºc
- I didn’t want to carry a pickaxe
- I didn’t want any sporting attachments or functions whatsoever
- I didn’t want it to be in anyway, shape, or form expensive
- I didn’t want it to be in anyway, shape, or form cheap
- I didn’t want to lose bananas in it – but that was going to be the rule proof.
So positive time – This meant I would ideally want, natural materials, leather and cotton; strength, so that’s rivets and bar tacks, not expensive that’s where my friend Musafar** comes in, simple if I’m not climbing any mountains I can do without 99% of a what a bag is, faff, fluff and, hmmm lining, I shall never have a lining or unnecessary pocket again and that was it, my positive mantra had been born:
- I wanted strong
- I wanted tough
- I wanted simple
- I wanted to write rough – but I’ve been told it then sounds mildly erotic – see how long this edit lasts.
3 words to live by: strong, tough and simple
I dipped into my archive of bags – to find this old chestnut, Shrew Bag from 2008. What could I take from this level of pure hand craftsmanship of the finest English tanned calf leather, English brass and one off hand stitching?
Finding a supplier and knocking a few ideas together took a while. I didn’t want to fight a daily battle for my voice to be heard in a large factory, yet I didn’t want to go the route of pure one man band artisan. Now, how I actually got put in touch with a chap called Musafar in Northern Pakistan, a few miles from the Kashmir and Indian borders, I still don’t know. Pakistan is quite a large country – and somehow, out of the millions of people I could have spoken to, I got given a Musafar. A godsend, a master, the key to all that is cricket… and quite possibly other than being the most amazingly creative person you could never meet, pretty damned annoying.
Having had the honour of working with factories all over the world, from pure artisans, to multinational manufacturers, Musafar has this glint in his eye, he is a specialist and artisan in his own right working with leather goods, but he has this innate knack for finding interesting ‘things’ 5 minutes before I knew such a ‘thing’ existed, before I knew I wanted that process. It could be that he likes to sell me things, knowing I am a like kid in a sweetshop… ‘Blue?!? you can do that zip puller in blue?!?’ Did I mention I am simple and now living by my mantra. But it was together we first developed the styles and beginnings of C+S – the new brand direction from Cora & Spink.
A Cora and Spink Bag What is this Totes Beach