Stanley & Sons is an easy thing to like. I’ve been a fan since my first encounter a few years back. There’s a certain aesthetic correctness to everything they do — from the art direction of the website to the physical products — that I have always appreciated. The tiny company operates out of a basement space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that serves as showroom, factory and head office all in one. Enter through the hatch in the sidewalk and walk to the back, you can’t miss ‘em. I stopped by last Friday to see the new SS13 collection and to see what Stanley & Sons has been up lately.
A little over a year ago I stumbled upon The Good Flock from Portland, Oregon and picked up one of their wool iPad cases. I still use that case nearly every day, it even works with my iPad2 and smart cover all together. I toss them in a bag, am on my way and don’t have to worry about it. In the past year the product line has grown and The Good Flock now offer additional items like leather goods, bags and a more complete line up of technology cases. I love the wool stuff and my iPad case always gets lots of love from people, but the waxed canvas bags are, in my opinion, really something special.
The Tokyo Bag (above) is far and way my favorite. On the surface it is a standard waxed canvas tote (of which we have seen many similar variants before), but when you drill down further you start to get a better idea of the functionality that is built into its design. The carryall has a total of eight pockets (four on the exterior, four on the interior) which come in amazingly handy. If you want to drop your keys, phone, cell phone and sunglasses all in their own compartment it’s a maneuver orchestrated with ease. I don’t ever want my keys and phone in the same pocket (because of the potential for scratches) and same goes for my glasses, which makes me appreciate the pockets on the Tokyo Bag. It’s a simple concept but one that I got into immediately after using the bag.
The folks at Urban Outfitters in Philly landed another mini-exclusive by scoring a few dozen of the Filson Japan red label goods, available in the U.S. for the first time. These made in the USA canvas and leather bags are being offered in two styles — tote ($150) and zippered tote ($175) — and three special colors (red, white and blue — naturally) and have a nice red Filson label on the exterior. With the khaki Filson bags being so ubiquitous, these are a nice alternative. If you can get your hands on one that is.
I’ve been know to own a bag or two. A guy needs to keep his gear properly stowed, especially living in New York City where you constantly need to tote your “tackle” around town. Enter Goruck, the new maker of bad ass black ballistic nylon bags that pack all the toughness (and quality) of mil-spec gear, but designed with civilians in mind. Jack Barley and Jason McCarthy (a fellow Ohioian — hat tip) founded Goruck to improve upon existing military issue packs. McCarthy in particular has first hand experience with such equipment through his service in the special forces.
The world of technology bag design needs a hug. Walk into an Apple store and you are surrounded by amazing design. The company puts the highest emphasis on white space and fonts and materials. Then you see the bag selection and it all goes to shit. I recently discovered the Portland-based label The Good Flock and quickly ordered their Pendleton Native American print wool iPad case — one of the best I have seen. I own a black Apple case for the iPad that converts into a stand (which is admittedly very handy), but the material is a little too neoprene-like for my tastes. Neoprene is like that terrible synthetic blanket you get at a cheap motel. Just the thought makes me shudder.
The Good Flock offers a series of different cases for everything from a Blackberry to a laptop in a series of Pendleton wool options. Everything is made in the United States and sold at good prices. The only thing I would change is maybe the button on the laptop series. That looks a little too “sewing circle” for me. All in all, nice looking bags, good prices and American made. Well played all the way. [The Good Flock]
Recently I purchased a bag from Frost River in Duluth, Minnesota. When the bag arrived I was pleasantly surprised how nice it was, though it was a bit larger than I had anticipated. I emailed the company and very painlessly exchanged the original bag for a slightly smaller option. As expected, the folks at Frost River couldn’t have been more nice, which seems to be a common thread amongst Minnesotans.
It does seem that some Frost River offerings are similar in shape and material to other Minnesota bag makers, though Frost River does a great job of differentiating itself with many of its products. Speaking of, Frost River has a ton of different items in its line. Everything from bicycle panniers to goods for the “cabin” and beyond. I especially like the Waxed Canvas Pistol Rugs and the Ash Baskets. The company does all of its own sourcing and manufacturing, and offers a great value for money. [Frost River official site + product photos]
One of my favorite bag companies out there is Minnesota’s J.W. Hulme. The company makes classic looking canvas and leather bags, plus a variety of different accessories. It is one of those rare brands that I want one of everything from. I was introduced to the bags years ago, when they supplied carry-alls to Orvis. The two have since gone their separate ways in what I believe to be an amicable split. Either way, it must be water under the bridge at this point. Thankfully J.W. Hulme survived and lives on to supply good looking bags to those who appreciate well made things. Perhaps Orvis and J.W. Hulme can revisit things now that Orvis taking a renewed interest in American make with their U.S. Patent collection. (More on that coming soon.)
The new Sporting Originals canvas bags (the lightly colored ones like the above) are just hitting stores (including select Steven Alan and Barneys stores) now — in case you were wondering. Also, pictured below are some of the company’s SS11 bags (the gray canvas and leather items). It is great to see the brand progress and apparently prosper. There was a recent Wall Street Journal article about how the brand has navigated a tumultuous past few years. It was interesting to see that ACL made it into that piece. It also makes me proud to know change is being made for the positive and people are keeping their jobs. At the end of the day, that is what really matters. Well, that and there are sturdy American-made bags in this world.