Outerknown’s casual clothes are easy to love. The California-based brand captures the best aspects of laid-back wardrobe staples and produces its wears in the most sustainable ways possible. Its Blanket Shirts and S.E.A. Jeans are perennial favorites, but its accessories have been limited in past years — not anymore. Outerknown’s thoughtful designs and considered materials are now available in a range of bags.
The New Life Project is made up of four original designs — a backpack, a tote, a sacoche and a zip pouch — crafted to stand up to the rigors of everyday use. Outerknown approached these travel accessories much like it produces clothing. "The impetus behind Outerknown was creating extremely versatile clothing items for our nomadic lifestyle," says Outerknown cofounder and chief creative John Moore. "Packing right, so we can travel light, and wear the same items no matter where the destination is. We always talked about creating bags and accessories to help us get from one place to the next, and since we always had this carry-on mentality we knew they didn’t have to be very big."
In order for the bags to sit at the intersection of quality, function and durability, Outerknown created completely original designs for each style. Collaborating with a highly-respected bag maker in Japan, the designs were refined over the period of two years. "Our team went back and forth with the team in Japan always adding a strap, refining a curve, or opening up a pocket to allow maximum flexibility in use," Moore says. "The result is lots of pockets to keep things organized and side straps for jackets, towels, wetsuits, and trunks, room for a water bottle, and then you can roll another hoodie or essential layer within the top rope detail. And you can do all of this with the backpack and still access your laptop easily, and since I’m always working in one form or another, that was really important to me."
Instead of settling for traditional materials, the designers set out to create bags using only recycled or repurposed materials. With this first launch, they got about 70 percent of the way there. "The Cordura shell, interior rip stop lining, binding, straps and the signature rope details on each bag are all comprised of recycled polyester — either a blend or 100 percent," Moore says. "This type of recycled yarn, technically referred to as PET, is comprised of recycled plastic bottles and other plastic discards. For future seasons, we want to tackle everything else including the hardware like the trims and zippers. Everything should be recycled."
On top of being more sustainable than conventional backpack materials, the fabric used in the shell and lining of these bags is both water repellant and tear resistant. That makes cleaning incredibly simple: when you get them dirty, just lightly rub with a brush.
The New Life Collection x Outerknown is now available and ranges in price from $98 for the W-Zip Pouch to $298 for the Backpack. If you’re in the market for a new everyday bag and want something more considered than the usual suspects, these should be at the top of your list.