Knomo is a cult British brand that is a classic story of local entrepreneurial flair: a company that makes things born out of a typical London desire to address one’s own need for items that were glaringly lacking in the market. The items in this case are bags. And the need that was not being met was for practical and sturdy bags able to stand up to the wear and tear of a typical London workday that didn’t compromise one’s own sartorial position.
Set up in 2004 by three friends eager to design and produce bags that would complement their natty wardrobes whilst never faltering in housing the mobile contents of one’s working life, Knomo’s stylish take on the practicality of the work bag soon came to the attention of a buyer at Selfridges. And now – not really that long after if you think about it- their distinctive products are sold in over 500 stores in some 22 countries. If London provides a model testing ground for a bag that needs to stand up to the rigours of a workday in an erosive urban metropolis, then it seems that there are many others around the globe who can identify with that need.
Although the full offer of the company includes bags for both men and women, luggage and a variety of models specifically designed to house technology such as laptops or items from the Apple stable, the items from their Brixton range of bags for men is particularly appealing. It’s perfect for men who want something both practical and a little less conservative.
The Brixton range comes in a seasonal palette of black, greys and deep blue. And the designs see both a clever reworking of classic workbag designs for men – for example the cycle courier bag or briefcase- as well as the reinvention of styles that have proved huge hits in women’s’ fashion in recent years – for example, the tote bag- for a masculine sensibility. Available in a range of sizes, these are bags that are varied enough to literally fit one’s needs, being able to carry laptops and other computing devices according to size, as well as all the other bits and pieces that one might require to travel both light yet fully equipped. The use of material combinations such as leather in combination with water-repellent waxed canvas give an impression of both luxurious quality and a casual down-to-earth practicality. The sense of luxury in the form of time taken to produce a beautiful design is reinforced in the numerous small details that make Knomo special, such as the particular way in which zips sit beneath leather flaps, secreting their metal surfaces and thereby creating a slick, unfussy finish.
Within the Brixton range there are a number of models that are guaranteed to earn a second glance from envious fellow commuters or an outbreak of envy passing the water cooler. For example, the Tokyo briefcase appears small and unobtrusive whilst actually being designed to fit many standard size laptops. Its bluish grey waxed canvas is contrasted with handsome brown leather straps. These and simple ergonomic lines that almost seem to evoke the excitement of jet travel in the 1960’s give it a certain jaunty retro cool. The Riley tote uses similar design motifs and materials, but, by making its lines vertical, it at once becomes something a little unusual and simultaneously something that denotes that the owner is not without a certain fashion awareness. This particular shape orientation, after all, has been something of a stalwart in luxury accessories sent down the catwalk in Paris and Milan in recent seasons.
As with all Knomo bags, each bag is fitted with a unique identify number that owners can register with the company online. In the event that the bag is lost and someone finding it obligingly calls the number fixed within the bag, all might not be lost. The hope is that by providing this service, Knomo owners might be able to be reunited with their bags without compromising their security and with the minimum of inconvenience to those decent enough to make the effort to return an item of lost property.