Some American heritage brands are getting increased fashion credibility due to their alignment with designers, a trend started by the Japanese, who seek authenticity for their own products. One of these brands is Eastpak, originally a manufacturer of military bags for the US army. In 2004, their first fashion collaboration was with the flamboyant Belgium designer Water Van Beirendonck. Since then, Eastpak has worked only with the more cutting-edge designers such as Kris Van Assche and Raf Simons.
Eastpak’s latest pieces with the newly-minted haute couturier Raf Simons was first revealled during the men’s wear show in Paris in January this year. This is the pairing’s fourth season, and there’s no sign of collab fatigue. Reworking EastPak’s classic Padded Pak’r, Mr Simons convinces us that backpacks can be luxurious bags if created in the right fabrics sans superfluous details (such as studs!). These backpacks have an incredible hand feel due to the fabric’s silky jacquard finish, which is a complete opposite of the crushed canvas of the collaboration’s first season, perhaps hinting at Mr Simons graduation from once a street-looking designer to one now with the advantage of a French atelier. While the awning stripes may be too much or jailbird-like to some, they are in keeping with the Raf Simons graphic sensibility.
As befitting an article with couture leanings, the way to carry this backpack is to tug it under the arm without a care, just as it is shown on the catwalk.
The Eastpak Raf Simons Collection backpack is available at Eastpak, Plaza Singapura, for SGD329