It’s easy to feel pangs of nostalgia when you see one of Herschel Supply Co.’s rucksacks go by (and by now, you’ve most likely seen a few). That’s because the three-year-old Vancouver-based luggage maker has perfectly captured a clean canvas esthetic that probably feels familiar to anyone who attended high school before 1990. Such an ageless identity is no accident. Having spent the bulk of the 2000s working for action sports companies like K2 and Vans, brothers Lyndon and Jamie Cormack named their new brand after the Saskatchewan hamlet where their great-grandfather, a barrel-maker by trade, settled in the early 1900s. Moreover, their wares have been designed to emulate the look and feel of century-old heritage brands, like Filson, paired with the modern appeal of good engineering. It’s working. This fall, Herschel Supply Co. scored a nod from a certain Cupertino-based tastemaker, earning their iPad and laptop sleeves a coveted spot on Apple’s store shelves. CB staff writer Jeff Beer spoke with Lyndon and Jamie about the art of launching a new brand that somehow feels like it has been there all our lives, which brands inspire them and where they hope to go from here.
What’s the idea behind Herschel?
Lyndon: Being heavily involved in the lifestyle fashion industry, we had a real inside track on what works and what consumers are asking for. One trend we kept coming back to was modern nostalgic products, and we saw a gaping hole in the marketplace. There were a lot of great sports brands and a lot of great fashion brands, but nothing that really spoke to sport-driven consumers who were interested in being fashionable.
Were there brands that inspired you?
Lyndon: Working in footwear for such a long time, definitely Vans and Converse are up there. It’s a product you can dress up or dress down, with an iconic timeless design that appeals to a wide range of consumers. We try to embody the creative, artistic spirit seen in those brands.
Jamie: A.P.C., the French ready-to-wear brand, is also inspiring. Their products are simple but fit really great and show a close attention to detail. But inspiration comes from all over. It could be from vintage chairs or home design.
What’s the biggest surprise you’ve encountered?
Lyndon: The overwhelming response the brand has received in every country we’ve entered so far [37 at last count]. At the end of the day, the sun needs to shine when you pull up to trade shows: your samples need to get there on time, your catalogues need to look fantastic and you need to meet the right people at the right time. It’s all come together pretty smoothly for us, but we’re not going to forget what got us here. We don’t have thousands of employees. It’s a very collaborative effort.
What’s the future for Herschel Supply?
Lyndon: It’s endless. We look at iconic brands, whether they’re two years old or 100 years old, and try to learn from them so hopefully Herschel can one day be a heritage brand that’s still here after we’re long gone.