Wednesday, 29 October 2014
The Staple: Stighlorgan and the Brilliant Backpack
Over the summer, I was doing a bit of 'brand consulting' and 'content strategy' for a few different places. You know, the kind of things you can't really describe without sounding like a total wanker. The kind of work that you do at 2pm on a smashed macbook while sipping a flat white in a trendy Hackney coffee shop. Before cycling home.
Yes, it was a cliche filler for sure, but it was also a bit of a confidence-booster. Working freelance isn't all that bad, in fact it can be great (when people 'remember' to pay their invoices). The place that I worked at consistently was Irish accessories brand Stighlorgan.
Run by Yvonne and Christian, the brand is all about taking traditional techniques and materials and giving them a unique spin. Not only that, but the way they put collections together is fascinating: they start with a few outline ideas for the season, then fire these over to one of their mates (a fantastically creative writer named Davin Gaffney), and then he sends back a short piece of writing that is then transmogrified into an entire range. It results in a line of products that are more than just bags and hats; they are the embodiment of the people that run the brand and the way they run it.
On to a bit of product. I've had this Driscoll bag for a good few years now, and in that time it gets more comments that pretty much anything else I own. It's a srsly simple design idea, but difficult to pull off without a sharp eye for detail and a strong knowledge of craft. Harking back to drawstring bags from the '90s (JJB Sports anyone?), it's a classic design, reworked in thick bridle leather with rope shoulder straps and some slick zip pocket details both inside and at the bottom, as well as subtle oversize embossed logo on the front. Over the time I've had it, the leather has softened and taken on a gorgeous patina, and since I started my new job, I've worn this every day. Basically, it's bloody awesome.
It's characteristic of the way Stighlorgan works. While these guys have an eye firmly on commerce, they're also very careful about the way they do things: reworking the entire range every season for example, isn't really necessary, but that's the way they want to do it. I find this approach very appealing, and the designs that Christian comes up with every season are SO on point. He's created the kind of brand that is consistently a few seasons ahead of everyone else. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but incredibly I've not seen anywhere else that's managed a copy of the Driscoll.
Anyway, I appeared at Stighlorgan at the start of the summer, and since then, these two have launched a new season, taken on new clients, moved studios and opened their own standalone retail store in Dalston, with all of the rollercoaster ride that this entails. They are some of the most lovely people I know, and not to sound sycophantic, properly inspiring. They also love a drink, which always helps matters, I find.
Anyway, I'm thrilled to say that the SLG Store is opening tomorrow (Thursday 30th) at 1 Stoke Newington High Street, in a space that's been bespoke-designed by Christian, and built with love over the last few months. Stocking a range of brands alongside their backpacks, it's a beautiful place and sure to become a bit of a destination for discerning shoppers, design lovers, and most importantly of all, prospective new friends, in coming months and years.
Proof, if it were needed, that good things come to great people. Now on with the booze!
A quick postscript: While I did love my old Sandqvist, two things. 1) they're now everywhere (ew), and 2) it broke. None of that with these guys...
(With apologies (um, again) for terrible photo, there are much better ones on the site)