- Buyer's Guide
Greater Goods Might Be Our New Favorite Upcycling Brand
Sustainability and upcycling are slowly becoming more popular in the carry world. But one brand’s version of “sustainability” can differ greatly from another’s. For Greater Goods, sustainable design is very much a hands-on process that reworks worn and damaged outerwear into practical bags for daily use. The London-based design project was founded by Jaimus Tailor and provides a playful, colorful take on sustainable carry.
The brand showcases the value of reclaimed materials through a range of collections such as the Tote Bag Project, the Offcuts Bottle Bag collection, and the Side Bag collection. Each collection features pieces that immediately catch the eye but complement their urban/techwear aesthetics with functional design. Keen to learn more about this intriguing brand, we asked Jaimus to share his design insights…
Can you tell us a bit about your design background?
I’ve always been into drawing and have been consistently expanding my creative skillset since a young age. I went on to study Graphic Design at university but once I graduated I began focusing on woodwork with a primary interest in using discarded materials. In 2019 I set myself a New Year’s resolution to learn how to sew but still had a strong interest in second-hand materials, which translated to me using second-hand garments.
How would you describe Greater Goods as a brand and what inspired you to create it?
I describe Greater Goods as a design project that was created purely from my interests in multiple design fields. I wanted a platform that would reflect all my creative interests, from graphic design to sewing and product design.
How did you learn to sew? Did you teach yourself or get advice from anyone?
I set myself the New Year’s resolution in 2019 to learn how to sew. I bought a broken sewing machine from eBay in December 2018, fixed it, and then learnt the basics from my sister over the weekend. I watched a few YouTube tutorials but learn mostly through practicing basic sewing projects. The more I practiced, the better I got. I feel I’m still improving, as it’s a relatively new skill to me.
How many people are in the team? What are your respective roles?
One person and I wear many hats. However, I often get help from friends when more hands are needed. I often work with my close friend Haydn West who’s an amazing photographer.
Can you walk us through a typical day at Greater Goods HQ?
No such thing as a typical day, every day is totally different. It could be an email day, sewing day, or a designing day.
Where are the bags made? Could you share a photo of your workspace and tools you usually use?
What do you consider crucial in good design? What key features or qualities should it have (function, a certain aesthetic, versatility, durability etc.)?
I’ve always looked at function to be the key factor, something that functions well and is simple in design will draw its own aesthetic. It all depends on the use of the object.
There’s a juxtaposition of outdoor-oriented materials and urban designs in Greater Goods pieces. How does the outdoors inspire your designs and fit within an urban carry context?
I’ve lived in the city my whole life, but have always liked outdoor gear and hiking. The products are almost a direct representation of the way I think being raised and living in the city but craving open outdoor spaces.
Where and how do you source the upcycled materials you work with?
Primarily online; I don’t really thrift much as all the resellers in London usually clean out stores. I make sure each damaged garment goes a very long way. I use every single part of each product; this means I don’t need to have a large stock of jackets to work with.
To what extent do the materials you are working with affect, limit or otherwise guide your designs?
The materials and garments really dictate the final design. It links back to when I focused on woodwork and how each salvaged piece of wood will come with its limitations. However, these limitations were limiting in the best way possible. It created these barriers that I had to work within, an unwritten design brief. Each product I make is totally unique; it’s impossible for me to make the same product twice purely because every garment is totally different.
What’s the most interesting upcycled material/item you’ve worked with?
It would have to be the natural hand-dyed fabrics from the recent STORY mfg. collaboration. My sewing machine had a slight black tint afterwards but working with the natural hand-dyed cottons was a joy.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve created and why?
Probably the Arc’teryx Kimono-style jacket, which was inspired by the Japanese Noragi.
I think it was the sense of achievement when it all came together that sticks with me. I didn’t know if it would be possible to create but I had the idea in my head for months and knew there was only one way to find out if it was possible.
What’s the most challenging piece you’ve created and why?
Easily the Gore-Tex Futura Tactical vest. It was a total reconstruction project with lots of techniques that were completely new to me. I really enjoyed the challenge and would love to do it again sometime soon.
You offer a bespoke service for custom pieces. How do you balance customer expectations with design, construction and material limits? And how do bespoke pieces push you forward, creatively or perhaps by learning new techniques?
I very rarely take on bespoke piece orders, as they are very hard to manage and often too complex to achieve. When I do it’s often a request from someone I know personally.
What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced so far, from a design perspective and business startup perspective? How did you overcome them?
Too many challenges to mention! The largest for me has been the steep learning curve on multiple projects. I throw myself into new design areas and learn best while being in the process. I think the best way to overcome a challenge is to really think clearly and pace yourself. It’s very easy to freeze up due to the to-do list being too large. Breaking tasks down into digestible chunks helps so much and gives that small dopamine kick.
How do you stand out from the competition and differentiate Greater Goods from other brands in a similar niche?
Often sustainability is presented by brands as very serious, with lots of diagrams and text. However, I feel that if it’s presented in a much more colorful way it has more potential of becoming the common norm. Greater Goods is a collage of a brand with constant varying art direction; I take pride in the graphic design aspect and am constantly looking to develop and experiment. Strangely enough I don’t think too much about competition, I focus on the things I create.
You’ve teamed up with other brands such as Paynter and STORY mfg. on collaborations. How do you choose which collaborators to work with? Are there particular creative traits you look for or shared values?
How do you see the carry industry developing over the next few years?
I like to think that there will be a push towards using recycled materials. I feel that many areas of fashion and textiles have begun focusing on new recycled methods but the bag industry seems to be slightly behind. There will constantly be developments in usability and functionality so I expect product to keep evolving in that aspect.
Are there any particular brands, creators or designers you look up to or that inspire your own work?
I respect and admire many brands; my insta feed is just a moodboard of constant amazing work from brands and creators all over the world. However, I often find myself repeatedly watching talks and lectures by Tom Sachs; for years he has been my favourite artist/designer. It’s not the direct influence to my physical work but more the mindset of creating and the purpose or reasons of doing so.
Could you share other brands you’re a fan of or who you think are doing great work in their space, either with or without a sustainability or upcycling focus?
Do you have any tips or personal practices for finding that important work/life balance?
I’m definitely not the guy to give work/life balance advice. However, for personal practices you need to make time for it. I’m not a super social person so I just used my evenings to learn how to sew and would keep going until the early morning hours. If it’s something you truly enjoy it shouldn’t feel like a chore.
Any advice for other designers or creators looking to do what you do or start a brand?
Start by learning Photoshop and refine the vision you have for the brand.
If you weren’t working on Greater Goods, what would you be doing professionally? Is there an ideal dream job or an alternative career path you’d be interested in pursuing?
Probably graphic design of some kind, I get restless behind a computer screen but the design I’m into involves lots of physical mediums such as collaging and scanning. Sadly I don’t think my dream job exists outside of Greater Goods.
Tell us something fun or unusual about yourself people might not know?
I’m fascinated by Concorde.
Can you share a photo of what you carry on a daily or regular basis and detail what each piece is?
I don’t really carry much nowadays as I don’t leave the studio but my essentials are as follows:
Phone (I used my Google Pixel to take this pic, I’m defo an Android kinda guy), Sandqvist leather wallet. Usual bits on my keys and a 2M Stanley tape measure (a true essential), Moleskine notebook, Leatherman multi-tool, Nalgene 1L bottle, black biro, drawstring pouch (for coins and other random bits) and an N95 mask.
How do you stay inspired or motivated each day, even if the creative juices aren’t flowing or a particular project is proving tricky? Do you have particular routines or activities that help you stay productive?
I tend not to fight through the creative blocks, I often just go for a walk and take it easy and ease back into the creating and making. Before lockdown I was running and playing badminton weekly but sadly during lockdown I lost a lot of drive to exercise and found myself creating and designing loads, which meant being sat for the majority of the day.
What new projects or designs do you have on the horizon? Any interesting future developments or plans you’d like to share?
I plan to experiment with new design and I plan on developing some clothing pieces.
Pro tip: we recommend joining the Greater Goods newsletter, to be the first informed of their new gear, as they only make very small batches and sell out quickly!