Is it the iconic, vintage-style ‘Herschel’ badge or the striking cherry pinstripe lining that has caused mass Herschel hysteria over the past nine years? Or perhaps it’s the quirky, small-town American backstory combined with global design influences that have gained the brand a cult following in just under a decade?
Image Credit: Herschel
It’s hard to believe that less than ten years ago, Herschel bags didn’t even exist. Crazy, right? Can you imagine walking down the street without a Herschel popping into your eye line every few seconds? Nope, us neither. Just how exactly has this modern and young design company grown from a small town heritage brand into a worldwide phenomenon in the space of a few years? What is it about these bags and do they live up to their hype? Read on to find out!
The Herschel Story
Established in 2009 by brothers Jamie and Lyndon Cormack, Herschel Supply Co is named after the town where three generations of their family grew up. The brothers’ ethos was to modernise nostalgic product inspired by old-school American values, and make it relevant for today’s fast-paced digital world.
Image credit: Herschel
Driven by design, the company has since grown into an international accessories brand that produces quality products with a fine regard for detail. As well as their ubiquitous backpacks, the company sells duffle bags, luggage, outerwear, and accessories, all sporting the iconic hip, retro style that made the Herschel bags so famous. Staying true to its roots, Herschel Supply Co. is still based in Canada today, yet is available in over 70 countries with over 10,000 points of sale. Impressive, right?
But What Makes Herschel Bags So Popular?
Cutting their teeth at cult companies such as Vans and K2, founders Jamie and Lyndon are the dream team when it comes to making accessories millennials go crazy for. At Herschel Supply Co, Jamie takes the helm for design and product, whilst Lyndon is responsible for the brand’s genius marketing. It’s this fusion of iconic design and aspirational branding that has helped propel Herschel bags into hipster heaven.
Herschel Supply Co has been very clever with their branding. How else can a company that’s less than ten years old take an authentic, heritage-style backpack and transform it into a covetable item to a young, modern and fashion-conscious audience?
Named after the rural Canadian town of Herschel, the brand manages to deliver small town American nostalgia to a global market. The place where the brother’s great-grandparents settled in 1906, Herschel is the foundation of the family’s American roots. The Cormack’s have skilfully taken the town’s rolling hills, dirt roads and old-school drifter vibe and channelled it into a modern story that’s encapsulated the world.
It’s no surprise that the rise of Herschel parallels the rise of social media. Lyndon has mastered the art of creating inspirational stories around the Herschel brand, which customers aspire to. The website is a visual feast with features such as the Journal and Well-Travelled pages celebrating design and travel. Nailing Instagram, the brand’s feed tells the story of trend-setting creatures gallivanting across the globe, whilst also managing to stay true to its authentic, rural Canadian roots.
Image credit: Herschel
Thanks to the brand’s distinctive styling, such as its signature “Herschel” logo, contrasting leather straps and colourful zips, it’s no surprise that Herschel Supply Co is design driven. Alongside Lyndon’s skilful branding, Jamie’s passion for expert design and attention to detail has helped spearhead the company to a cult-like status.
Herschel bags evoke nostalgia, whilst appealing to the modern world. How do they do this? By combining a fashionable, retro styling with contemporary features that include laptop compartments, ventilated back padding and innovative materials, such as ApexKnit™. Twee accents such as the bright red pinstripe “heritage striped liner” and the stitched logo badge are stylishly contrasted against clean, urban and utilitarian designs to bring a charming, old-school American authenticity to the international market.
Total Instagram candy, the backpack’s vibrant, colour-block designs, unique accents and zany prints appeal to urbanites and explorers across the world, with #welltravelled wanderers ‘gramming themselves wearing Herschel bags in far-flung places, from hiking in Equador to navigating the New York subway.
Image credit: Herschel
It’s not just the coherent story between design and branding the Cormack brothers have perfected. The versatile nature of Herschel bags mean that all ages, lifestyles and genders are partial to the Herschel hype. Although the brand officially targets the “18-to-35-year-old travel consumer” the quirky designs are coveted by all walks of life. From school girls to urban hipsters, rugged adventurers and office workers, all ages and all personalities go crazy for their statement rucksacks. Perhaps it’s down to the company’s clever mix of timelessness and contemporary function that appeals to all generations?
Not only do Herschel Supply Co have worldwide appeal, but they are incredibly versatile in function too. The backpacks are suitable for work, study, play or travel, and will happily carry your books to college or accommodate two days’ worth of clothes for a weekend trip away. Who wouldn’t want to invest in an all-day, everyday kind of bag that is universally recognised as the epitome of cool?
Now you understand why Herschel bags are so awesome let’s take a look at some of the brand’s key designs. Herschel has over 40 backpack models in an assortment of tempting colours and fashionable prints. But which are the brand’s most popular ranges?
With its timeless diamond shape accent and ultra-modern style, the Herschel Heritage Backpack is the ultimate stylish staple for hip kids. A breath of fresh air for those who like to travel light, the design is streamlined to offer a pleasurable handling experience and extra volumes. With space for a 15” laptop, books, lunch and a jumper, the Heritage accommodates all your daily essentials, whether you’re exploring a new city or commuting to work.
With funky, two-tone styles, kooky prints or monotone colours to choose from, you’re truly spoilt for choice when it comes to style. Our personal favourite is the Herschel Heritage Mid Volume Backpack in Army, perfect for rocking a chic, military style this season.
Sporting a retro-inspired, mountaineering styling and contrasting coloured straps, the Herschel Little America Backpack is one of the brand’s most recognisable designs. Voluminous, versatile and ever so streetwise, the Little America works for all types of terrains, from the urban playground to the great outdoors.
Little America Backpack in Quarry/Blueprint, £95.00
A drawstring closure allows you to pack more, whilst padded straps and air mesh back padding ensure comfortable wear. Whether you’re lugging around folders, a gym kit, weekend clothes or photography equipment, the Little America accommodates your belongings with minimal fuss.
Herschel Settlement Backpack takes a no-fuss attitude to design with its clean lines and minimal aesthetic. Simple, sporty and chic, the backpack verges on the more contemporary side of Herschel’s design ethos and are perfect for those who want a timeless, yet modern backpack.
The brand’s signature pinstripe interior adds a playfulness to these understated bags and is home to a 15” laptop sleeve and internal media pocket with headphone port to look after your digital devices. On the exterior, a front zipped pocket features a key clip and plenty of space for your small essentials.
If you’re looking for a smart, everyday bag, then the Herschel Settlement Backpack in black is your guy. With a clean black aesthetic, brown pebbled leather pulls and gold-toned hardware, this smart backpack is perfect for making a subtle statement.
Despite its cool, retro aesthetic, the Pop Quiz is one of Hershel’s most modern backpacks. Digitally inclined, the bag boasts a padded, fleece lined 15” laptop section, internal media pocket with headphone port and fleece-lined sunglasses compartment, whilst an external front pocket is protected by a weatherproof zip and lining, making it a safe spot to store electronic devices.
Pop Quiz Backpack in Light Grey Crosshatch/Acid Lime, £70
With many designs sporting a contrasting white or bright zip, the Pop Quiz Backpacks are stylishly striking and are bound to turn heads on the street. Plus, thanks to its generous volumes and sturdy construction, the Pop Quiz effortlessly accommodates folders and books, making it one hot looking bag for school or work.
From cool city centre cafes to rugged rural mountains, wherever you are in the world, the chances are that the person in front of you is sporting a Herschel bag. With plenty of styles to choose from, Herschel bags invoke a sense of community and individuality. Check out our Herschel Supply Co designs here, choose your personal style and join the tribe today.