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New Contributor | James Jeffrey
We get pretty excited when a new contributor comes onboard with Carryology. We figure that the more diverse and interesting our contributors, the more of those juicy little carry insights we should be able to deliver to your screen.
James designs carry gear for a living. Before he starts writing about some of that carry world, we figured we’d ask him to write a little about himself and his carry journey so far. So Carryology, meet James…
James (from his desk in London):
I am an Australian soft goods designer currently living in the UK, and having previously designed in Australia and Vietnam. I initially studied industrial design, and how I ended up in the soft goods industry is a bit of a mystery. But I’m well and truly in it now, and enjoying the variety it brings.
I was working with bags and shoes before I graduated and have been doing so ever since. But my real initiation into the carry community came when I accepted a job based in Vietnam as a designer for a European based brand (although with Australian roots). I was there for 3 years, working with our own team of on-site designers, sewers and pattern makers. It was in this time I learnt a great deal about the realities of designing and developing bags.
What does it take to make a bag? How much thread is used in a backpack? How many hands touch each bag? We could conceive, sample and refine a design all in very short time.
While it was a great experience for learning the technical elements of bag production, there was a large gap between the understanding of production and an understanding of the European market that I was designing for. Something had to be done!
For me, the obvious choice was to move to London and swap the oppressive heat of Vietnam with the oppressive crowds of the London Tube.
Living in London has provided me with a new chance to properly explore which bags to carry over a long commute in a crowded environment. Crowded trains, crowded streets, crowded markets and crowds of suspicious characters. When heading to one particular client I travel for 1.5 hours each way, which gives plenty of time to wonder about how securely my stuff is being kept as I stand then sit then jostle then squeeze.
Commuting like this can have you standing the whole way, scoring that lucky seat for the full journey, or every combination of standing sitting, being on an empty train and being packed in like the line for the last keg on earth is possible.
An interesting thing about designing bags is that I have not had to consider purchasing a bag for years.
Whether on loan from other bag designers, a commercially acquired reference sample, or just an idea that is in progress, a suitable carrying vessel was always just a quick trip to the supply room.
The Tube is different though, as not just any old bag will suffice. It needs to be big enough for a day’s gear, including the occasional left overs. It needs to be slim enough to fit in the tightest spots. Protected enough that no one can slip into the pockets and walk away with some of my valuables, and yet flexible enough to be able to put it between my legs while standing in a crowded space without elbowing someone in the face.
I think this is one of the great aspects about bags – that depending on your ever flexing needs, what you want, actually what you need, varies daily. Some days its all about looks, some days its all about comfort, and others its about size (yes it does matter).
So for me, I hope to continue designing, using and refining bags and soft goods for many years to come. And at the moment, it seems to be about bags that can negotiate a crowded train or bike commute, keep your contents secure, and hopefully run with a hit of the glorious color purple.