It’s hard to believe that Herschel Supply Co. has only been around since 2009. As a highly sought-after brand of timeless travel bags, including their original backpack, the company has made its mark on the accessories world in a major way. The bags are made to be the opposite of “fast fashion,” since this is a bag that you can carry for decades if you want to. With a clever, yet fairly basic design, the Herschel Supply Co. is proving that sometimes it’s just best to go with a simple sturdy classic that you don’t have to overthink. You just pick up your bag and roll.
The backpack is their big seller. Think of all the backpacks you have carried in your life. If you were a child of the 80s, it was a Jansport that you probably wore to school each day. Teens in high school or college in the 90s, especially in the Midwest, were all about the classic LL Bean backpack. It was even better if the back of the pack was embroidered with your initials.
It’s one thing to wear a backpack in your teen years, but the popularity of backpacks being a bag you could carry into the professional world, took off in the 2000s. That’s partially thanks to Herschel Supply Co. They state on their website that as a “design-driven global accessories brand, they produce quality products with a fine regard for detail.” That couldn’t be more true. All of their bags are sturdy with color choices that are neutral enough to wear with casual clothing or even a suit. If you are a fan of the brand, you probably want (or have) a bag in each style they offer.
Created in Vancouver
The brand was launched in 2009 by two brothers, Lyndon and Jamie Cormack. You might have the feeling that this is an American brand, but the brothers were raised in Calgary. Lyndon Cormack was working with the shoe company, Vans, at the time and left to start his own fashion brand with his brother. Jamie worked at K2 Sports, an outdoor supply company. The two men agreed that the current state of the backpack world was fairly boring. They wanted to create a modern company with a nod to old-school utilitarian heritage that’s geared towards the 18 to 35-year-old demographic. The name they decided on for their brand refers to the town of Herschel, Saskatchewan, a tiny fishing village where three generations of their family grew up.
The brothers themselves are close in age with Jamie being the oldest at 48-years-old and Lyndon at 47. Growing up together, being best friends, and playing hockey on some of the same teams cemented their bond as children in Canada. It was a natural fit to go into business together in their 30s after establishing their careers in the fashion and outdoors industries.
When they showed their first backpacks at a trade show in 2010, they were shocked at the positive response. The main bag they featured was slightly rounded at the top with a square pocket in front and a carefully crafted logo. The brothers had clearly tapped into an industry that was in sore need of some new energy. Their headquarters are located in a trendy, yet industrial part of Vancouver called Railtown; a large loft space that is everything a fairly new fashion brand should be, trendy and unique. They don’t try too hard to be cool, but they effortlessly come off that way. The company culture is a mix of young and seasoned industry vets that all work well together.
Now they make a variety of bags, including the iconic backpack, a duffle bag, messenger bag, hip packs, totes, and crossbody bags. Ideally they have a style of bag for everyone including university students, urban professionals, and people with wanderlust who just want to travel the world jumping from hostel to hostel. There is also a line of accessories like a laptop sleeve, headwear, wallets, pouches, other travel accessories, and of course in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the new accessory that we all have to wear, the face mask.
The company mainly sold their products out of higher-end department stores, like Nordstrom, and on their website for years. They opened their first retail store in Canada back in 2018 to much success in a part of Vancouver called Gastown. Now they have 44 retail stores all over the world with locations in Hong Kong, Paris, and New York. Besides their own stores, the bags are in 10,000 other retail locations in 90 different countries. It’s safe to say that they have reached the mainstream..
Designed for Everyone
Currently, the company makes bags and accessories for men, women, and even children. The reason they probably expanded into children’s backpacks is that Lyndon has two daughters who are now teenagers. This is clearly a brand that you could outfit your whole family in with their simply stylish bags. Everyone is jumping on the Herschel Supply Co. bandwagon.
In fact, the company experienced booming growth that catapulted their global success from 2011 to 2013, growing a whopping 5000 percent in that time. Due to the phenomenal growth, they opened a design office space in Los Angeles, California to handle more of the work it requires to maintain and expand their brand. That kind of meteoric rise is rare in the fashion industry, and the reason that Herschel made it happen is that people just fell in love with their backpacks.
The Famous Bag That Started It All
The men’s backpack is their most famous bag. It’s a combination of rustic design that’s also clean and urban. The combination of the two styles is why it’s so popular today. The biggest seller is the iconic Herschel Little America Backpack in black. If you aren’t into basic black, it comes in 23 different color options and styles with what the company calls a “mountaineering silhouette.” The brand’s lettering logo is proudly displayed on each bag with a small square white patch. The price of this model is $109.
Even though their basic color schemes are the most popular, they do have accessory style bags in different patterns like camo, tropical prints, polka dots, and some that feature your favorite sports teams from the NBA or MLB. It’s a departure from their original designs, but just gives you more options to showcase your individual style.
Their Latest Launch Is Eco Friendly
Their latest launch is geared towards the consumer who is deeply invested in the environment. The Herschel Eco Collection is “from the landfill, with love.” This bag line takes some of their classic designs and makes them with post-consumer water bottles, which is a nice way of saying “used.” Don’t worry though, it’s an extensive manufacturing process where the plastic bottles are cleaned, melted down, and turned into fabric for the bags and their liners. The Herschel Little America is specifically made from 20 post-consumer water bottles. The Classic XL is 15 bottles.
The Future Is Entirely Herschel
The future of the brand looks very promising. They just celebrated their 10th anniversary back in 2020, and things couldn’t be better for the brand. One of the best parts of the company is their commitment to creating products that don’t use any forced or involuntary labor. In total transparency, the products are manufactured in 15 different factories in China, but they make sure their items are made with responsible manufacturing policies.
If you haven’t worn a Herschel bag yet, it’s time to check out a company that makes an exceptional product that will stand the test of time. They offer a Limited Lifetime Warranty on all of their products which means that they will replace or repair any item with a manufacturing defect. Considering how well their products are made, this is probably an issue they don’t have to deal with much. With a strong social media presence, Herschel Supply Co. is set to be an iconic brand that you’ll see many people wearing for years to come. Luckily, their many accessory styles look as good in a boardroom setting as they do on the back of an adventurous traveler traipsing the globe with only the Herschel Little America on their back.