Why Herschel Supply is the king of the hipster-retro backpack
Ever since the Canadian brand Herschel Supply began its journey nearly ten years ago, it has proven to be a label like no other. It has enjoyed the type of rare and rapid success that most companies can only dream of. Turning into one of the most cult following brands on the planet.
Whether you’re a businessman in Wall Street, a Japanese computer Geek, or a young kid on the way to school, the ever-expanding customer base Herschel Supply offers seems to be endlessly more diversifying. Just like their product range, which has continued to expand exponentially, the two brothers behind the brand—Lyndon and Jamie Cormack—seem to have kept their feet firmly on the ground while everything around them blossoms into spring.
The Cormacks launched their company, named after the rural Canadian town of Herschel in Saskatchewan, where three generations of their family grew up. Like many old frontier towns, the vintage mountaineering heritage steeped in a time forgotten helped the brothers being inspired in launching their own label. As Lyndon Cormack reminisces “although we lived in the big city through our childhood, we loved going back to our Granddad’s place, fixing up broken stellar wheels and carburettors, having endless fun. We craved the old experiences, hence why Herschel Supply came about.”
Originally known for its contemporary renditions of classic backpack silhouettes, Herschel’s range has since enlarged to include a lot more. There is now luggage, a versatile selection of totes, duffels, messengers, apparel, and a seemingly an endless pipeline of things to come. Today’s Spring Summer 2019 offerings are no different, presenting new updated earth tones, pastel hues and compelling prints. Reaching beyond conventional borders and barriers, this season’s lifestyle essentials are designed for new channels of discovery.
No different from harking back to good old times of nostalgia, it can be one of the best ways to communicate a brand’s ideologies. As Lyndon says, there is nothing better than “the feeling you get in an old store, a sign blowing in the wind, utility products on the shop floor, the spirit of the community, fond memories, diversity of nature and functionality all placed together in such harmony; no dissimilar from the challenges we set ourselves in Herschel today.”
The attention to detail and challenging the classic product shows up continually in their work. ”We look back before we leap forward,” says Cormack.
Hershel Supply’s commitment to designing what Lyndon calls “modernised, nostalgic products” has translated into big business for the brand. Collaboration with hard hitters including Disney, Starbucks, Coca Cola and Stussy has shown the versatility of the products, but also its customer - limited edition capsule collections with the Herschel stamp has become a much sought-after item, giving it authenticity and long-term loyalty. Interesting upcoming collaborations include New Balance, G Shock, and United Arrows.
Now sold in more than 90 countries, according to Lyndon the secret to success is pretty straightforward. “People are always going to react to well-designed products,” he says. “We do design a little bit more specifically for the sixteen to 28 year-old guys and girls, but we feel that our aesthetic is so timeless that it resonates far beyond that. It is pretty amazing when you see people over 70 years old carrying a Herschel, and it doesn’t look out of place.”
The trick is in its simplicity. Initially striving to reinvent the backpack, but the difference being a focus on customer benefits in a no-frills way. “Ultimately we make a utilitarian product that is new and fresh,” says Lyndon. “Each customer’s journey is different. Their cultural surroundings are so paramount in the journey, whether it’s at an art gallery, a coffee shop or restaurant for example, we are along for the ride and the experience.”