When lifestyle brands collaborate with other brands it can be a union of entities that brings excitement and a boost to the bottom line. Marketing executives have long looked to the pairing of brands for invigoration, to reach new communities and generate buzz, yet for some companies collaborating plays a more intrinsic role and goes beyond the seasonal product drop.
At Eastpak collaboration is part of its DNA and inherent to the brand’s winning formula. Take its humble backpack, which has been through a generation of iterations: re-mixed by artists, spliced by designers, re-imagined by fashion luminaries, all the while blending new ideas into a hybrid and drawing excitement around every new design it releases.
Works of Art
Eastpak has long been adept at turning its iconic backpack into works of art. In 2010 the company launched Eastpak Artist Studio, a platform of originality and artistic creativity allowing artists from various disciplines to create a special-edition of its Padded Pak’r backpack to express their vision ‘carte blanche.’ You may recall collabs with Nicopanda, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vetements, Ami or Christopher Raeburn to name but a few. Many of these designs are now collector’s items, like that of the Berlin-based textile collective Muschi Kreuzberg, who stripped the backpack to its bare essence and reconstructed it in barbed wire.
The first to introduce wheeled luggage
Of course Eastpak’s success is more than the sum of its collaborations and designer partnerships. Founded in 1952, the company initially produced bags and backpacks for the US army before focusing on the consumer market some two decades later. It was the first lifestyle brand to put prints on bags and the first to introduce wheeled luggage, changing the lives of globetrotters everywhere. Nowadays Eastpak is part of VF Corporation, the 120 year-old stalwart apparel group best known for its outdoor and activewear brands, connecting consumers around the world via its lifestyle portfolio of companies.
Meaningful and compelling
Of all its partnerships, Belgian designer Raf Simons has been an influential and meaningful collaborator with Eastpak since 2008, together releasing compelling accessories with his unique vision that explore alternative culture and youth. The Raf Simons x Eastpak collections have found inspiration as wide-ranging as punk, Blade Runner and last season’s “Throwback to a Misspent Youth.” The latest marking the ninth chapter, where backpacks and accessories feature metal loop detailing, rich textures and contrasting colourways.
Eastpak forged its first collaboration in 2003 with Dutch tattoo artist Hendrik Schiffmacher. It was a visual feast of a bag, that unknowingly initiated a new category into being. Like the collaborations that followed, these partnerships exist in the intersection of art and fashion, the classic and the contemporary, and are always surprising and innovative. And it keeps Eastpak a maverick in its field.
Images courtesy Eastpak