For the most part, leather travel bags are pretty predictable; sticking to the tried-and-true formula of vegetable-tanned shades of brown in vintage-inspired shapes. If you're looking for something less ho-hum and more in tune with a modern aesthetic, NYC's The Transience offers some creative alternative options. The new brand's leather bags and accessories—geared towards travelers—merge functionality, quality and unique designs that are eye-catching, yet subtle enough to match any occasion and outfit. Showing a supreme attention to detail, each piece is fabricated in NYC by a team of dedicated young seamstresses, led by the designer Sarah Clarkson herself.
To gain a little more exposure, The Transience has temporarily settled into a space on Bowery, using the front area as a pop-up shop while the viewable rear serves as a studio where seamstresses can be seen chatting and working on the FW14 collection. Upon entry, the scent of glue permeates—reminding you that bags are being made while you browse.
Clarkson, a former industrial designer from England, proves her creative prowess with a range of bags that convert into different shapes. "Travel stuff is often really boring," she says. Thus, she was inspired to create useful, commuter-friendly bags for travel-savvy people. Clarkson shows us how the Convertible Duffel, a roomy size that fits in the overhead luggage compartment, can adjust to a smaller-sized tote to tuck in under the seat. There's also a zippered pouch hidden inside to organize smaller objects, as well as detachable straps. The whole process is as exciting as converting a Transformers action figure. As the large Convertible Duffel is noticeably heavy (even when empty) due to the all of the leather it's composed of, The Transience offers a smaller version as well. There is also a backpack that transforms in to a shoulder bag (thanks to an extended strap) too.
The leather used is purchased in small quantities from a source in Midtown where it arrives from Italy, Turkey and France. Additionally, The Transience uses Riri zippers from Switzerland, which are renown in the fashion world for their smooth movement and durability (used by high-end lines such as Hermès bag, for example). Clarkson even gets giddy talking about the metal snaps they were able to source from a "cool Italian company": "They're patented, so they only sell them to people that they think are worthy, which we were like, 'Yes, we got the snaps!'"
The Basics collection has simple silhouettes in black, but each season introduces fun, limited edition colorways—at the moment, they've got goods in gold and a "Stargazer" pattern that resembles the texture of the moon. Furthermore, The Transience offers a custom service if you have a certain request, which is why they have colorful swatches of leather in their pop-up shop. From jet black haircalf (pony) to iridescent seafoam green and an embossed white, the materials are to be transformed into one-of-a-kind handbags, dopp kits, wallets, cases and more.
Another highlight of their standard collection is the leather iPad case/stand; it starts out as a traditional flat case that folds into a stand, like origami, with the help of magnets. The flap (lined with suede) also doubles as a built-in screen-cleaner: "I discovered that suede is an excellent screen cleaner," says Clarkson. The stand works both horizontally and vertically.
The Transience bags and accessories are available in their online store and range from $145 to $1,650. They'll also be sold at their pop-up shop in NYC (located at 355A Bowery Street) until 29 June 2014.
Product images courtesy of The Transience, all others by Nara Shin