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Accessories August, 16 2010

First Look | J. Panther Luggage Co.

Here’s an exclusive first look at J. Panther Luggage Co., a line of bags combining deft functionality with artisanal manufacture in some of the US’s oldest factories. Lamenting that artisan-made luggage too often plays it safe by sticking to classic form, designer Johnny Diamandis has developed a small collection that draws upon what he calls the ‘golden era’ of pre-1960s American manufacture, yet takes its design cues from more modern modes of living. We’re particularly taken by the ‘Ruc-Tote’, a unique combined ruck and tote bag that was born out of the designer’s frustration at not being able to carry a tote when cycling the streets of adoptive home NY…

Read and see more from the J. Panther Luggage Co. after the click.

Worth a look too is the ‘Aviator’, a compact day bag in leather-trimmed canvas or all-leather named for the veteran New England craftsman who makes it: he carries one when flying planes in his free time. The removable leather ticket/passport pocket found inside is a nice piece in its own right, as is the detachable wrist/key strap. The brass we’re still fond of is present and correct here, and it’s sized just about right for your iPad.

Diamandis, London-born former creative director at Evisu, might be regarded as obsessive when it comes to sourcing materials. But not by Selectism; we lap this stuff up. Leather comes from Chicago’s Horween tannery (est. 1905 and supplier to the NBA and NFL), while canvas is imported from a Scottish maker that has supplied the British army for decades. Even shoulder-strap webbing is high-grade: US-made and as used by the American military.

‘We’re using a way of manufacturing that doesn’t exist outside of the US; there’s a very unique way of making things here,’ explains Diamandis. ‘It’s basically luxury goods, Americana style.’ He stresses too the work that has gone into these pieces, something that he hopes will be reciprocated by years of usage: ‘It’s been two entire years of close collaboration with the craftsmen. I spent on developing just four basic styles the time in which some would knock out eight whole collections.’

- Darren Gore reports in from Tokyo.

Highsnobiety