Beautiful Businesses do things well. They design and make for the long-term. Having a natural aversion to the right-here, right-now trend driven product, beautiful businesses create things which stand the test of time and embody sustainable production values. This is
Take messenger bags for instance. They are… well,… very now and very popular. They owe their recent revival to fast fashion cycle courier culture. If I had to choose a messenger bag, I would want one which is aesthetically pleasing, functional and well made. I would want one with values. One I could believe in. After much searching I came across a messenger bag I think I could trust and rely upon: Trakke.
Trakke, make high-quality, handmade luggage for cyclists and outdoor adventurists. They believe in making products that are as functional as they are beautiful; products that work as well on the mountain as they do on the city streets. Originally focused on cycling, their range has developed with their expetise to include mountain and adventure equipment made with the same dedication, creativity and style.
Trakke Messenger Bags. Handmade in Glasgow from Trakke on Vimeo.
Trakke was founded in Glasgow in 2010 by Alec Farmer and his friend James Ring. Starting from scratch, they spent time hunting through skips and dumps to find old suitcases, sofas and advertising banners to take apart and recycle into bags. Learning as they went, they spent 18 months developing the company and the brand, and then began experimenting with new materials. They employed a sail-maker called James Sawyer, who with a career in sailmaking, understood a thing or two about the physical limits of fabrics, their stress points and seam tensions which are pretty fundamental to the success or failure of their products in action. He now has a dual role, overseeing production, ensuring that the bags are made to the highest quality, and helping with design to make sure that the basic construction of each item will be durable and long-lasting. They think of it like the relationship between an Architect and a Structural Engineer!
Sustainability in Design…
It is said that 70% of carbon emissions can be cut out at the design stage. Long lasting, locally produced and with an eye for design detail, makes for a sustainable product. Starting exclusively with reclaimed materials and hardware, the shift to new materials has meant making sure that the sustainable element of the business wasn’t sacrificed. Trakke make all of their products by hand in their small workshop in Glasgow. Proponents of the ‘Made in the UK’ ethos, they source as many of their materials and hardware from British manufacturers as possible. Waxed cotton is custom made in Scotland, stainless steel buckles in Wales, webbing is manufactured in England and zips are made by one of the last remaining zip factories in the UK. Some components have to be sourced abroad though; the AustriAlpin Cobra buckle used on their messenger bags are sourced from the EU because they are literally the best money can buy.
“We consider every detail of our bags – how they are used, how they will wear. We design them to look as good in 20 years as they do today. Materials such as waxed cotton wear in, not out – whilst our stainless steel hardware has no moving parts, making it super-durable and long-lasting. We build our bags to last a lifetime, and design them to carry your life”
Local and Handmade is Beautiful…
Focusing on the Made in the UK concept saves shipping products from independent factories overseas, reducing transportation based carbon emissions. They also consider the economic potential of a more condensed supply chain which bypasses the need to import materials from overseas, and helps to bolster the British economy. Pragmatic to the last, Alec says…
“Sure, some components simply aren’t made anywhere in the UK anymore, so we have to look elsewhere, but if we don’t show that there is a demand for certain components, no-one will ever think to manufacture them here. If we want manufacturing to return to the UK we have to support it!”
Collaboration with a Design Classic…
Adding their own unique twists to some of the bags they make, Trakke showed their style and versatility, collaborating with Harris Tweed to create a range of Tweed bags. Harris Tweed is largely considered one of the finest manufacturers of tweed cloth. Every metre of tweed is woven by an individual weaver on a pedal powered (yes, exactly like bike pedals!) loom in a remote croft. Harris Tweed are a unique example of an international business that is essentially still based on a cottage industry model.
Bags with Stories…
Alec says he loves finding out what people are up to with their bags. Sometimes people send photos of their bags in action being bashed around! One customer ordered a bag, and his address was in the Antarctic Research Station!
Because they make every bag to order, they only ever have a relatively small number of bags in the workshop, but there are over 120 bags out there right now, and its great to see that they are busy getting their own stories to tell. An unassuming business to the end, Alec says…
“We’re just trying to make the best bags we can, in a way that we think is right. The devil is in the detail, so we make sure we look after our customers as best we can and continue to design products that inspire people to get outdoors! Surely that’s the aim of the game, right?”
Trakke combine the relevance needed to compete in the market place with unique twists and the basic elements of messenger bag chic. They have designed a range of bags made to withstand the stresses of all terrain weather as well as being, sourced and made as locally as possible making this a British bag, made sustainably, utilising traditional skills. A bag to outlast trend, fad and fashion. If you want more details on this Beautiful Business and their range of great products, visit their website at trakke.co.uk. Product details, philosophy and contact details are all there.