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5 Minutes w/Defy Bags

by , September 20, 2012

A new post in our ‘5 Minutes With’ series, we get the good stuff from Chris Tag, founder of Defy Bags. We’ve done a road test on the Defy Recon which you might be keen to check out if you haven’t already, since we think this brand is pretty darn rad.

1 – What key insights drive your stuff (what have you realized that others haven’t)?

I think what drives Defy is really designing what I love. Or what I’ve missed that’s not out there. Or what I want to exist in a bag that doesn’t. I remember when everything was going more clean cut and sort of preppie, I kinda felt like, ‘I don’t care if this shit’s a popular trend, I ain’t carryin’ it.’ And found myself filling Moleskines with designs and drawings that were filled with what I wanted. I got lost in a collision of late nights, booze, Spotify and designs honestly. And never really tried to impress people. It was mostly about what got me off. Something that would pass the ‘morning after test’ of liking it AFTER that supposedly inspired night of designing till the wee hours of the morning. I’ve always felt if you design that way, with your heart, surely someone out there will connect. I’m not quite sure if I realized anything others haven’t. I don’t really pay much attention to what others are doing. But when I do, it’s less in a catch up way, but more a respect for something else that’s dope out there.
2 – Who else is doing rad things in the world of carry? Could you elaborate on those things and why you think they’re important?
It’s a big world out there, and there are lots of damn talented people. LIke I said, I’m not much about looking around at what others are doing, but more about filling our own head space with continued inspiration, fun, and creativity. If I had to name someone who’s caught my eye, it would be Makr Leather. Their aesthetic and sensibilities are pure. If I wasn’t making iPad cases and other things out of leather, I’d buy their shit in a heartbeat! I also just was turned on to Winter Session bags after seeing one in Nick Horween’s office at Horween’s tannery. It stopped me in my tracks and I thought it was a beautiful bag. Made me smile.
3 – Are there any things other brands do that you think could be improved on? Common mistakes that drive you nuts?
I feel some bags feel more is always more. They throw every D ring and zipper at a bag, thinking somehow that’ll make for a great experience. While we’ve been criticized for maybe going too far the other route, I just think all that other shit is artifice. I see through it and picture some marketing guy in a boring-ass white tower in an overly crowded conference room saying, ‘JB, you know what this bag needs? D Rings! The world needs more D Rings!’ And then his 12 people nod approvingly as they send some junior intern to go sketch up 30 D rings on the outside of a bag that’s then mass produced in China. Ha, and then you see it produced and you think, ‘Is this bag for a janitor with 30 keys he just otherwise wouldn’t know where to put?’ Um, how about a bit of simplicity? There’s a purity in understated. There’s an essence in ‘just what you need, and not much more.’ I come from an art direction background in advertising producing global campaigns for big and small brands for (shit this is a long time!) over 15 years in Chicago. While there are many things I’d change about the industry, there are some great similarities between product design, and say great type design for a print ad, or tv commercial. Namely, details matter. I try to pay attention to details. And after I’m done paying attention to the details, I pay more attention to them.
4 – What’s next for you guys?
What’s next for Defy? We’re hoping to (sorry) Defy expectations. First, we’ve been getting a lot of requests for a backpack. I scrapped one we were just ready to launch because I just wasn’t happy with it. I want it to be amazing. We’ve taken some of the good from what we were going to release and are working it into new prototypes. We’re so close. Then before we release it we like to put the bag through some livin’. Take it out in the world, see what’s working, what’s not. What can be improved.
One other future release we’re super stoked about is a project that’s been under development even longer on and off…Defy bike panniers. M35 military truck tarps are surely up for the beatings a bunch of road warriors will dish out!
There’s also a strategic partnership we’re hoping will come together that will blow people’s flippin’ minds. That’s all I can say on that for now.
5 – What do you carry daily and how?
What do I carry daily? That’s actually a very funny question, as I switch habitually. One day it’s a First Class Large. Another day it’s a Recon, Dope or Square. Recently it’s been a Johnny Cash inspired printed canvas bag from our Print Shop. Or a vintage Israeli Defense Force duffle, because I love its design and want to study how it carries, how it feels, what it might need (this is a current carry and fascination of mine, I ordered it from Tel Aviv and absolutely love it). I suspect aspects of it will show up in our upcoming duffle series. It’s become a habit of mine, and Dana Hortick (Defy’s other designer), to carry everything we design before it reaches the public. In our studio there’s literally a pile of bags 3 feet tall that were designed, carried, modified, marked up with grease pencils and revised yet again.
What I’ve been carrying is mostly this customized Strapped bag, with added 2″ Cobras. I designed the bag to give people an opportunity to experience a vintage M35 military truck tarp bag more affordably. But as it turns out people have ‘done the math’ and smartly realized Defy makes less profit in this EVEN IF they add the Cobras. It’s sort of a bag that is a collision of features from the Recon & First Class combined. Feels like travel luggage for some reason. Very happy with it!
Defy is really a way of life, more than a bag company. We can’t wait to share what’s in our heads and hearts. Peace!
  • Valter

    here we go again… 😉

  • Michael J

    <3

  • B.R.P

    I’m guessing everybody got their anger out about using Cobra buckles on bags on my 5 minute interview then? :]

    Nice to see another person giving some more in-depth answers too though!

  • Valter

    322$ for the recon large (flagship model?). I know nothing about the fabric but find the bag well priced.
    Iwould not use it for professional messenger work, and we have the cobras… But looks like a quality item for edc or travel. Discretion and good taste.
    Congratulations, wish you success with the bags, and for BRP too.

  • A. T.

    It’s interesting how price alters perception. On cheaper messengers, the amount of flak about that gap near the flap on otherwise waterproof bags or the quality of seams at the bottom outside corners would be endless. But make users pay $300+, and all you’ll hear an appraisal unison.

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