As part of Bath In Fashion 2013 Made In England! Pop Up Manufacturing I was happy to be asked by Liz Cox and Andrew Cater of British Bag Makers to design a one-off bag, but obviously it sent me into free-fall. With such an open brief I kept putting off the moment when I had to sit down and realise my ideas on paper. I decided early on that I would design a bag for a man, so what exactly did I want from a bag? How did I use bags? What works for me and what doesn’t? I have to admit that I have several bags from an old Prada nylon rucksack (I bought this in the 1990s in three different colours – black, chocolate and toffee – and have thrown it in the washing machine more than once since then), to a Mulberry Bayswater that is as roomy as Mary Poppins famous carpetbag. However, when it came to designing this new bag I decided to take the best bits from two favourites: a no-nonsense Muji holdall with multi-zip pockets and my anonymous netbook case that originally housed a much larger, earlier model.
The look would be utilitarian and as plain as possible. Functional and a little anti-fashion, I guess. Taking inspiration from favoured sources (an authentic khaki padded army coat and a well-travelled orange nylon travel bag from Habitat), I went about sketching out which elements I liked and what new bits had to be on my hit list: webbing straps, no visible clasps or fixings, a chunky plastic zip, nylon net lining and elasticated side straps for securing a discarded jacket or sweater. I also wanted a handy pocket for mobile phone and Oyster card.
I did my best to give Liz and Andrew and their team a complete picture of my bag – making (sort of) scale drawings measured with an old school ruler and emailing some visual references for colour (khaki and navy) and fabrication (beaten-up leather and nylon). I am pleased to say that the results aren’t half bad and I could definitely imagine myself using the bag, which fits snugly on the shoulder and is sizeable enough to carry an overnight change of clothes, document folders and a magazine or two, along with my netbook that fits neatly and is easy accessed from the front flap pocket (secured with magnetic fastenings).