At first sight, this new duffle bag (pictured above) looks like it was custom-made for Cool Hunting. A quiet, minimally branded black exterior unzips to reveal a bright, bold green (our signature color); even a semi-concealed side compartment for the items we need to access regularly: laptops, phones, books. And to further differentiate itself, this super modern number from NYC-based Custom House International is one of the slimmest and sleekest (not to mention, perfectly formal) duffle bags we’ve come across. It’s something we’d proudly carry to the office on Friday, then to a swanky business dinner before jumping into a car or train to get the summer weekend trip started.
The recently launched accessories line—which includes briefcases to valises, all made from durable Cordura synthetic fabric—was founded by former design journalist Andrew Yang (who also has good taste in food; he’s a managing partner of cult NYC joint Mission Chinese Food). “I’ve bought a lot of bags in my life that I thought held a lot of promise, but would become too heavy, too fussy, too dirty and just plain uncomfortable to carry after a week. Moreover, I felt that bags should reflect your values—not fussy, versatile, durable and utilitarian while striking the right tone. Not every bag is meant to be lugged through the forest,” Yang tells CH. “For Custom House International, I wanted to create bags with those values in mind. All the bags are super light, hold a lot and never get dirty, and they make you look damn good when you’re walking through the airport.”
Yang, who lived in Shanghai in his late 20s, describes the “International” inspiration to the brand. “The Bund was the place in the city where you could see the vast international influence on the city because of the 1920s architecture: French, British, American, Chinese. For me, it is a shining example of how something beautiful is created when different cultures intersect. Fast forward to the 1950s and 1960s and you’ll find Wallace K Harrison, one of the great architects of New York and who did something similar with Lincoln Center, Rockefeller Center and the United Nations. One can just imagine the compromise of cultures and personalities it took to develop those projects.” He adds, “Custom House International is inspired not just by travel, but by the monumental things that happen when ideas and culture are exchanged.” The mission truly transcends the physical carriers themselves.
Alongside the Slimmest Duffle in the World (aka the $325 Kirkman Duffle), Custom House International has just launched a new minimalist, boxy backpack in three colorways that “pair well when worn with a coat and tie” thanks to elegant leather shoulder straps. There are also new zip pouches for all the little things in life.
Images courtesy of Custom House International