- Buyer's Guide
9 Little-Known Brands That Should Be On Your Radar
Discovering a new brand that you weren’t aware of is a gift that keeps on giving. Sure, we all have our favorites. But there’s no denying the buzz that comes from spotting a design that makes you take a second look; a piece that makes you wonder who made it, and just how it might feel to use it yourself. Sometimes it’s a distinct design language and aesthetic that draws you in. Other times, a functional benefit. Maybe even both. And since we give a solid thumbs-up to stepping outside the familiar and exploring now and then, we think these 9 brands should be on your radar…
Founded in Taipei in 2018, SEALSON positions itself as both a design and research studio. The brand is focused on pushing boundaries while creating designs honed for hybrid functionality. The designs are inspired by the utility and mobility required in outdoor gear, paired with a clean minimalism that complements everyday use in urban settings. SEALSON experiments with in-house fabrics and manufacturing methods that reduce pollution and waste. All while creating a wide variety of carry offerings such as backpacks, shoulder bags, and carry vests that can nimbly leap from city streets to time in nature.
If head-turning personality is a priority in your carry, WISDOM should definitely be on your radar. Though still a young brand, Moscow-based WISDOM have an impressive lineup of handcrafted bags that fuse elements of tactical style with playful blends of color and contrasting fabrics. Shoulder bags in a variety of silhouettes are currently the predominant offering, ranging from messenger-style and sacoche bags to their intriguing Lunch Bag. However, WISDOM occasionally drops other pieces such as backpacks and pouches too.
GRAYL is all about embracing travel and outdoor adventure in a safe and prepared way. And one of the key elements on your travels is having access to clean water that’s safe to drink. So GRAYL dedicated themselves to creating a highly portable and straightforward water purifier that would allow you to safely drink from lakes, rivers, hotel sinks, and more. Today the brand offers a choice of purifier bottles, along with camping drinkware and even a hip pack with an inbuilt bottle carrier. A member of 1% for the Planet, GRAYL is also committed to supporting a range of charities that help both people and the planet.
CAYL has been encouraging a love of the outdoors since 2011. The Seoul-based brand embraces climbing, hiking, and trail running and the useful overlapping lessons that the outdoors offers for our day-to-day lives. Their carry offerings include backpacks, totes, pouches, and more, with distinct nods to outdoor influences but the versatility to span urban use too. Additionally, CAYL has a diverse range of clothing and accessory offerings that can step from the city streets to the trails and back again.
Keen to stand out on the trails? Then you should definitely check out Hermitic Gear. The brand is based in Hong Kong and focuses on handmade ultralight backpacking gear. Peruse its offerings and you’ll find a wide assortment of fun colorways and contrasting fabrics, guaranteed to turn heads while adding a pure spark of joy to your setup. Of course, if you like things more low-key, you’ll find more understated pieces too. Hermitic Gear creates backpacks, shoulder bags, and pouches, with designs offering flexibility for outdoor adventures and daily use too.
Are you a sneakerhead who wants to step up your shoe game? Take a meandering stroll through Flower Mountain’s wide-ranging designs for both men and women and you’ll very likely find something that captures your attention. The founders, Yang Chao and Keisuke Ota, bonded over a shared love of music, mountain trekking, and footwear. The brand has grown into an internationally recognized name in the footwear scene, with production across Europe and Asia. While not intended for extreme outdoor settings such as highly technical mountain trails, the blend of fashion-forward, creative aesthetics and technical production makes the footwear a savvy pick for exploring urban streets, with the flexibility to step out on nature treks too.
Who said sportswear can’t be stylish and sustainable? Certainly not Circle Sportswear. The French sportswear brand was founded in 2020 by Romain Trebuil with the aim of creating technical apparel that supports circular production. The brand focuses on sustainability through the use of recycled materials for their clothing, which is itself recyclable. The designs are created to be durable and timeless, so you can use them for many years to come, thereby also contributing to a more sustainable alternative to fast fashion. Circle offers a variety of apparel for men and women, covering running, yoga, and gym training. So wherever your activity takes you, you’re good to go.
Inspired by motorbike rides across Bali and the need for practical, well-made headwear, Nicole and Connor Humphreys founded Bandits Bandanas as a sustainable and creative bandana brand in 2018. They have partnered with a Fair Trade-certified manufacturer in Kolkata, India and are committed to using sustainably sourced, 100% organic cotton in their bandanas. And what better way to celebrate sustainable construction than through exclusive, original designs? Bandits collaborates with artists from around the world on their bandana designs, while also giving 10% of proceeds to charities chosen by the artists they work with. The bandanas can be worn in multiple ways, ranging from around the neck or face to headscarves, wrist wraps or even tied around a bag for some added carry flair.
If you love beautifully crafted leather carry, the pieces from Nerb Handcrafted are hard to resist. The brand is based in Bangkok, Thailand and focuses on high-quality handmade leather goods including bags, wallets, and smaller accessories such as keychains. Premium materials such as Horween leather, exceptional attention to detail, and straightforward functionality make these pieces you’ll want to hold on to and use for years to come.