- Buyer's Guide
Drive By :: ETWAS Standard #2
Will Lisak founded ETWAS in 2009 on the idea that buying luxury objects shouldn’t require supporting traditional structures of production and distribution. ‘Etwas’ means ‘something’ in German and Will believes it is important that both the product and design process behind it are attractive, for at the end of the day the bags are merely ‘somethings’ and the focus should be a sustainable creative process.
ETWAS has no front office, warehouses, or janitorial closets. The bags are created with respect to old school craft, either inside or outside of the studio thanks to portable workboxes and a heavy reliance on hand tools. The pieces feature hard-wearing, natural materials and are crafted in a manner that has as little impact as possible on the natural world. While this business model may prove difficult to scale, we admire the belief that purchasing a product means purchasing ethical stock in the company that created it.
The ETWAS Standard #2 is a stunning shoulder bag that straddles the line between old world utility and boardroom charm. Made entirely out of thick, shaped leather, it is constructed by hand using traditional methods.
At $530USD this bag is prohibitively dear, and simply not an option for anyone who considers themselves value-oriented. But, like good wine, high-end watches, and space tourism, we believe that there’s a time and place to utterly ignore all cost-benefit considerations.
The Standard #2’s sturdy, vegetable-tanned leather is saddle stitched by hand with a recessed groove to eliminate seam wear, riveted with hand-hammered copper rivets, and conditioned with a beeswax and pine tar conditioner that has held up exceptionally well to Vancouver’s rainy season. At first glance I was struck by the roughness and simplicity of the bag. Its construction borders on craft-like, and its appearance leaves no doubt that Will Lisak created it with nothing but his portable workbox and time.
ETWAS applies what they call “modern reductionist functionality” to their bags, and the Standard #2 reflects that. It has no internal organization of any sort, and I adapted the bag to a variety of different uses. I immediately found situations where the bag’s individuality shone through – from showing some personality in professional settings to relaxed city cycling to working in airport coffee shops.
Design-wise the bag ticks a lot of my boxes: it stands on its own without looking boxy, it has a medium-width shoulder strap, its handle is comfortable, and the hardware is both sturdy and easy to use. It doesn’t do much, but what it does it does impeccably.
And, while we weren’t going to talk cost-benefit in this piece, it’s worth mentioning that all ETWAS bags include repairs free of charge for life. With proper leather care it will last for decades, making its asking price seem almost reasonable.
Who is it for?
You own a vintage 300SL. You’re flying into San Fran and need a last-minute gift for Jony Ive. You’re about to make a presentation to Elon Musk. You don’t remember what groceries cost.
Who is it not for?
You separate your food on your plate. You organize your socks by colour. You drive a sensible Toyota Matrix to pick up toilet paper at the Superstore.
The bag is gorgeous, and I use it in a variety of ways. I’ve used it to travel, and it’s been a great incognito camera bag. I would love to see ETWAS offer a dedicated business version of it – with laptop compartment, pen organizer, business card slot, separated stationery, etc… That being said, I appreciate that they have made something stunning, and allowed it to exist without the clutter of #allthefeatures and #allthetech. I look forward to its patina developing over time.