Perhaps the only place where I still eagerly shop for seasonal releases is Japan. Specifically, I check in with B-shop, a web/brick and mortar store specializing in simple, classic, well made clothing and housewares from Europe and the UK. Each fall, I point my web browser to Bshop online, anticipating the exciement of seeing new collaborations, updated product lines, brand mixes and refreshed lookbooks. Sometimes, a seasonal tweak comes in the subtlest of forms: buttons are replaced with snaps, cotton is swapped out for black watch wool or canvas duck transforms into patent leather.
Bshop also wins my heart for offering almost all of their garb in unisex sizes. They also host curated offerings from Labour and Wait.
If you follow Archival, you know that we love UK-made, Brady game and fishing bags. While the brand and product line has expanded in the last few years (adding business, biking and equestrian lines, not to mention, Japan only models), the core patterns have remained relatively unchanged since this 1976 catalog. It’s a relief to know that Brady bags are still handmade in England in the same materials (Archival faves: canvas, brass and bridle leather) as the original models from the 30s and 40s. If you are shopping for a new bag, I recommend The Sporting Lodge which offers stock and special edition Brady models like the Gelderburn in an exclusive colorway or this unique jubilee cartridge bag from 1952 (originally carried by the Queen).
Since my bag library is full, I frequently collect images of vintage Brady models from eBay, Rakuten and Etsy. I’m searching for vintage Brady models that I haven’t seen in print catalogs or incorporate features like hand knotted game nets that have disappeared from the modern line. Here are two recent finds that I’m adding to the Archival image archives:
Brady Sandringham with hand knotted, hemp game net. Brady still sells a Sandringham with a nylon game net (an undervalued feature on modern bags) but I love the level of hand work represented by this vintage model. I don’t own a Sandringham, but if I ever buy another Brady, it will be this bag.
I love the diminutive yet overbuilt look of this tiny, early era Brady shell bag. The treated canvas has aged beautifully and the tiny scale of the bag really throws into relief the bag’s beautiful material components (essentially becoming a framing device for the lovely, bridle leather and brass closure).
As I type, our sewing contractors are working on our first run of Archival Clothing Field Bags. Just like last time, we’ll preface the introduction of a new product with a round-up of existing bags.
We’ve always loved Brady Bags, and this small trout bag has served Lesli faithfully for years. We like the heavy laminated duck, the fine quality webbing, and the convenient pocketing. The side-mounted shoulder strap also ensures a comfortable, close carry.
We really are Filson devotees, but we’ve found their Field Bag series to be challenging. This example has been used heavily by the Archival family for 15 years. Though it’s built like a truck from top notch materials, we’ve found a few drawbacks. Abundant use of heavy twill, bridle leather and brass mean that the bag is heavy and bulky, even when unpacked. We prefer webbing shoulder straps to leather, as web is softer and more comfortable (and negates the need for a separate strap pad). Attaching the straps on the back panel means that the bag tends to flop downwards rather than hug the user’s back. And a panel of extra fabric around the bag’s opening keeps rain out, but also makes it harder to load and unload your gear.
One of our favorite bags, this Hunting World Safari Today is comfortable and convenient (there are two pockets on the inside). Of course, it’s no longer available, and it doesn’t fit laptops or much more than a half-day’s worth of gear. Though we love the hand-knotted fishing net on this old Chapman game bag, we had to admit that its utility is limited in daily use, as fingers get caught and small objects vanish instantly. We’ll keep this one around for hunting squirrels, but we left the net off of our own Field Bag.
So surrounded by examples, both material and visual, we set off to design a workhorse shoulder bag that would equally serve an urban professional or a dedicated fisherman. Our requirements:
– Unquestionably durable construction – A strap configuration that provides for a comfortable carry – Useful pocketing while keeping the layout as minimal as possible – Plenty of room for laptops – Protection from the elements – No features or finish that compromise function or unduly raise price (i.e. abundant leather trim) – As with all of our products, domestic materials and manufacture to the best of our ability.
Indigo Slims blog author and denim designer, Jessica L., sent me these photographs of her 18 month old Brady Gelderburn fishing bag. The bag is one of the largest in the Brady range and I questioned Jessica on her selection of this specific style (and on why the bag’s strap was already so frayed after so few months of use). She replied: “It’s quite a big bag for me and i have the strap long, but i am also guilty of overfilling – i use it every day as my handbag & for work stuff. it’s also picked up a little indigo from my jeans! occupational hazard.”
My own Brady inventory includes the diminuitive Norfolk, a Brady tote and a Japan-only rucksack. But I’ve always coveted the oversized Gelderburn as a travel bag every since I saw Michael Palin toting one around in his (recommended) BBC documentary, Around the World in 80 days (1989).
As a pattern, camouflage (cryptic coloration, a mimetic cloth), is not visually interesting to me (too many lakes and shorelines). However, I do like the idea of camouflage and the fact that it has an underlying, historical use value (unlike paisley, for instance). From the Wikiepedia entry on Military Camouflage:
[T]he intent of camouflage is to disrupt an outline by merging it with the surroundings, making a target harder to spot or hit.
I’m drawn to the bag, in camo, in part because of its limited availability. But also because the camo seems to work with the original tan of the style, making the camo patterning more like a strategic subtraction (a disrupted outline!) and less, a larky embellishment (more English Patient, less The Winds of War).