Wallet Specialists Bellroy Takes The Long Awaited Leap Into Bags
Before they were an established brand, Bellroy created the blog Carryology. This platform allowed them to connect with like-minded bag enthusiasts seeking the latest styles, innovations and brands. Traditionally there had been a focus on sneakers in online communities, but bags were left to fend for themselves. With the explosion of innovative and forward-thinking design-led bags, Carryology quickly became the go-to destination for honest reviews and in-depth information.
Innovators in pocket slimming wallets, Bellroy have now turned their attention to game-changing backpacks and bags. Determined to re-engineer what they felt was a fundamentally flawed design in the way we carry our everyday items. We caught up with bag designer extraordinaire, James Jeffery to get the full low-down on the new range and the process behind its creation.
What was the driving force and inspiration for Bellroy to move into designing bags and backpacks?
With our grassroots in wallet design and with the goal for the end user to carry with greater simplicity and ease – it was no secret that this was going to be the next step for us. We couldn’t wait to get out of the pocket and start designing backpacks and bags. We took all of the knowledge gained from Carryology including product reviews and functionality that the Carryology fans had been discussing. With a simple plan to introduce these designs to the wider audience who we knew would appreciate them just as much.
What innovations and design features did you take from your award-winning wallets?
What we really learned from introducing our first to last wallet design, is that scale matters a lot! From working with wallets where you’re working with a tolerance within 1mm, if you take that kind of focus and design and introduce it to a bag, it’s really interesting to think about the amount of detailing and resolution you can apply to a larger scale.
Storage vs access also came into play. Going into the design process with full creative license was amazing. Being able to apply a different kind of thinking to bag design. Rather than taking a format of a tote bag, for instance, and simply including the basics, we achieved a much more innovative and forward-thinking piece. We prioritised storage for the pieces you need to grab on the go, rather than the pieces you will only use in a controlled environment.
What is your favourite bag from the collection?
I would have to go with the Duo Totepack. I think the Totepack is the premier bag that we’ve got and it really shows our progressive thinking and approach. For me, it’s the flexibility of the design that is key and reflects the demands of our customer. If I’m going to a more formal affair I don’t want to walk in with a backpack over my shoulder. It’s a moment that feels kind of awkward and a touch too casual. However, I don’t always want to be carrying a shoulder bag all the time either, as I cycle a lot. So when you’re in a more formal environment, you can tuck the straps away. It looks professional and controlled, yet you have all of the comfort and usability of a regular backpack.
What’s your biggest hang-up with regular bags or backpacks?
The biggest hangup I have with backpacks is that despite having so many benefits, the issue is that you can’t feel grownup and carry one. I feel like you always end up feeling like a bit of a school kid. I have this vision of going into a meeting where everybody seems a little older than you and you end up feeling a little like the underdog.
How do Bellroy bags and backpack differ from anything else?
So, I think what we aim to do from the get-go is to create a backpack that is mature, whilst having all of the incredible benefits. We wanted to ensure we’d take usability to the next level. We wanted the end user to be comfy during their commute, but feel appropriately professional when required. We didn’t want the bag range to be screaming functionality over style and designing the bags to look slick and stylish was still as important.