The haversack - re-invented13-Jun-2017
Craftsman and designer Quentin Mackay has long fostered a passion for bags. Now he has decided to re-invent an icon in the world of bags - the haversack. You can see his interpretation of classic military-based design at the upcoming Top Drawer show from 10-12 September, where he will launch his first haversack collection within the Spotted section.
Quentin can look back on a long career in accessory design. In the 90s he trained under a master leather craftsman at Tanner Krolle, one of Britain’s oldest luxury leather brands. This is when he “fell in love with the making of bags and use of leather”. After graduating at St Martins in London his extraordinary talent was spotted by Loewe who invited him to work at their accessories department in Spain. In 2002 he returned to Tanner Krolle as Creative Director before joining Samsonite as Global Creative Director. The last eight years Quentin spent most of his time as design consultant for a number of brands.
We caught up with Quentin ahead of his launch at Top Drawer Autumn/Winter to find out a bit more about what's behind the brand.
What made you start up the Haversack brand?
The main reason I started Haversack is that I have a passion for bags. I had been looking at the idea for a couple of years and it seemed to naturally evolve. After three years in development I’ve got a very neat product concept and now I want to launch it. What I’ve done is try to mix the old of the new and I’ve put it into neat packaging concept based around the personality of the haversack.
The haversack design has a brilliant history, which is connected to people like Churchill, Hemingway, Orson Wells. Yes, it’s design is rooted in the military, but it was also used and admired by scholars, storytellers and adventurers. The actual haversack itself was part of a modular system designed for soldiers with pouches and add-ons for ammunitions and so on. I want to use this concept for future collections and accessories like iPhone pouches etc.
Who is your target market?
It’s very difficult to say as I think the haversack has wide appeal. It just has such an amazing history. I have based my design on the so-called ‘authentic pattern 1937’. Although the design of the bag hasn’t gone through any dramatic changes, the MOD has issued small refinements over time. ‘Pattern 37’ was one of the key changes, introducing a quick release buckle.
Initially, I am launching the bag in ten colours and I am also planning to launch different materials, such as ballistic nylon and tarpaulin. My aim was to make the bag more attractive to a female audience, but I think it’s going to be very popular with men too. Inherently, the bag is appeals to the male market, but I think the range of colours will feminise it. I created a ‘colour wheel’ where people can choose their colours under the tagline ‘which colour is you?’. I like the idea of colours relating to personality and psychology.
I’ve also re-designed the logo as I didn’t want it to be military. I don’t want to focus on the military history of the bag. The new logo still has a military feel to it, but it’s made of crossed feathers instead of swords – relating to its scholarly past – and I also added a compass to represent the explorer past of the design.
What other designs are you working on right now?
What I’ve learned in business is don’t try too much at once. At the moment I am focusing on my launch at Top Drawer and getting the website up and running. I am working on some new ideas at the moment like a backpack or a tote bag and a few smaller items like a zip purse. They are under development and some of them will be shown on Top Drawer my stand in September.
I do believe it is key to stick to your iconic product and not trying to venture into other categories too much. It’s frustrating to see how some brands desperately trying to diversify in order to create a lifestyle brand. It never really works as 80% of their sales still come from their hero product.
The haversack is a blank canvas. It has so many possibilities! One of the areas I am really interested in is personalisation. The first level is a series of dog tags, which is an easy way of personalising your bag. The second level is where you can have the bag with your initials or stripes painted on.
The third level in the future will be aimed at children. The haversack can convert into a backpack so it would be a good school bag. I have two children of 14 and 15 who are so brand conscious, so if you can get into the psyche of a teenager with your brand then you’re on a good route to success. A backpack is also ergonomically good for children. So the third idea is to design a backpack where you could add a set of badges with emoticons or the full alphabet so kids can personalise their bags.
The Haversack comes with a plastic tube packaging. Quentin: "When the bag is empty it can roll up three times into round rolled up bag. That led me on to come up with a unique packaging design."
The Haversack comes in ten different colours.
Quentin: "The new logo still has a military feel to it, but it’s made of crossed feathers instead of swords – relating to its scholarly past – and I also added a compass to represent the explorer past of the design."
The design includes an internal pocket that's secured with a zip.