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More Than Just A Pack On Your Back

Herschel Supply Co. reinvented the utilitarian backpack, infusing it with creativity, design, and just a little bit of nostalgia. We spoke to one of its founders about the success of their brand

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Lyndon Cormack at the Herschel store at Siam Center in Bangkok, Thailand

Lyndon Cormack at the Herschel store at Siam Center in Bangkok, Thailand

By Liza Ilarde

The backpack. Here is a bag so ubiquitous and utilitarian, so basic, and, yes, boring. That’s exactly what brothers Jamie and Lyndon Cormack thought back in 2009 in Canada, when they realized there was a gap in the market when it came to backpacks. They designed one that was built for outdoor use but that also celebrated lifestyle and design. They called their company Hershcel Supply Co., named after a tiny town in Canada. They launched the backpack in 2010 and today it is sold in over 70 countries. Thailand is one of those countries and where I met and interviewed Lyndon Cormack about those backpacks.

“Our business started because we thought the backpack business was quite boring,” admitted Cormack. “What we set out to do with the backpack is to infuse creativity, put attention to detail, and add a nostalgic design that’s a little bit of a nod to the past, but is still a very good functional product for today.”

The Herschel backpack certainly appeals to the youth, what with tons of books that students have to carry every day, but because of its versatility, it goes beyond school. “The 18- to 34-year-old is naturally our demographic,” Cormack revealed. “They are generally who we speak to, looking at their lifestyle—how they go about work, what they do before and after work, and how they travel. They often take the same bag in their day-to-day, whether they’re commuting from work to the gym, or they’re flying from JFK to Manila.”

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While the brand has expanded to include other styles of bags, like totes, slings, and pouches, travel is the next category they are seriously eyeing. “In the beginning, we kept the reigns in tightly because we wanted to concentrate on the backpack, which is the core of our business,” said Cormack, “but we’re now making a real big push into travel. We feel we can help the consumer on their journey, whether they’re going away on a day trip or a week-long vacation. We have come up with some really amazing solutions and continue to invest time, energy, and resources to bring new and relevant products for travel.”

This season, building on their popular Trade hard-shell luggage collection, they launched Trade Power carry-ons, which feature a convenient sleek internal battery with an external port to keep your mobile devices charged. Other travel accessories include a travel adapter, a luggage scale, and an amenity kit (includes ear plugs, a sleeping mask, slippers, and an inflatable neck pillow).
A first for Hershcel is the Nova, a backpack specifically designed with the female market in mind. “Our consumers are 50-50 men and women, so we’ve always had a unisex approach to bag design,” said Cormack. The Nova mini backpack comes in a flight satin fabric, has dual top-carrying handles, and slender shoulder straps. “We should probably do this more often because it has been really successful.”

From top: Nova backpack in ash rose, Heritage backpack in a Hoffman floral print, Trade Power carry-on luggage

From top: Nova backpack in ash rose, Heritage backpack in a Hoffman floral print, Trade Power carry-on luggage

You may also have noticed some floral prints in the current collection, done in collaboration with Hoffman California Fabrics, a heritage textile company and “which is the original Hawaiian shirt maker.” Other collaborations in the pipeline? “Well, I don’t know if I’m letting the cat out of the bag, but we also have a collection with Hello Kitty coming out in January. We’re really excited about that!” So are we!

For store locations, go to facebook.com/HerschelSupplyPhilippines

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