This is always an exciting time of year, the September issue is out, NYFW shows are underway and we get to see what’s coming from the creative minds of our favorite designers. Like many, I enjoy watching and deciding which trends I’ll embrace or ignore, and my fashion designer past doesn’t stop me from raising an eyebrow here and there. After many years in fashion, you’d think I’d be a passionate shopper, though my experience with product development has made me pickier than most. There’s only a small list of designers and brands I respect and shop from, so it’s rare I get excited about a new brand.
Knowing that about myself, I was still surprised when I began to search for a work appropriate backpack. When I say work appropriate, I mean I need a backpack where I can fit my laptop and important files and maybe even gym shoes, without completely ruining my fashion sense. Who wants to commute to work with a backpack that is ugly? No one. Whether you work in fashion or not. The day I realized my back was hurting and I was carrying 3 bags with me (like most women in NYC) I knew it was time to invest in a nice backpack.
Easy enough, I thought. I’ll go to the obvious places (remaining unmentioned) and find a nice quality, appropriate backpack that holds a computer and is still stylish enough for me (a woman). And then, reality hit. Apparently this checklist in a backpack is a lot to ask for:
• Good Quality
• Functional (yes, believe it or not women carry laptops too)
I went to my favorite designers, and the functional backpacks were mainly in the men’s section. The women’s backpacks while nice, are more like big tote bags disguised as a backpack, without dividers or a space for a laptop. Honestly, I already spend enough time rummaging through my purse to do the same with my backpack.
So my second option, I went to sporting stores and travel stores. The backpacks there look like I’m about to go hiking or like something I’d buy as a gift for well, a man. There’s nothing wrong with these designs, they are great for their use and for a hike or a trip. I was just surprised to see that I couldn’t find a backpack that was feminine enough for my style and still functional for my (gasp) day job in the fashion industry.
Never fear, I thought. I’m a master researcher and in no time I’ll find something on-line and have it delivered. I can basically find anything on-line. Search after search though, I found more of the same.
Either the backpacks for women are cutesy pink with flower prints, or the high fashion options are awesome on style, but score a 0 on functionality. If it did happen to fulfill all my organizational needs, it looked like it was made for him and not for her.
I continued searching and was now more determined. I got more specific, more descriptive, changed my filters, conjuring up all my favorite female designers I haven’t visiting in a while, thinking surely this next one will have something… just to be disappointed again.
Really? No one makes a backpack aesthetically designed for a woman, but functional for a job that requires toting a laptop around town? (Note to self: If I ever want to start a business again, there is serious market white-space in the functional yet stylish backpacks segment!)
Finally, one company came up in a general image search for backpacks. And then, probably thanks to Google bots, it continued to appear. I was so excited when I opened the website for Knomo, I can’t even begin to describe the relief. I watched their videos, enjoyed their site, and at one point I think I had 5 different items in my shopping cart. Who cares about the shipping fees (they’re based in London, and the NYC offerings are limited). By this point, a search which should have been easy had taken me several weeks, and I was ready to have a solution shipped here fast. Luckily, I remembered I had a work trip to London coming up. Even though I would have loved to have a backpack for the trip, I held out and waited to see these bags in person.
The designs truly are as beautiful and well crafted in person as they appear to be on their website. The small store experience was pleasant, with a helpful staff ready to help and advise on their favorite pieces and best sellers. I had a great time trying out all the pieces and seeing what would work best for my lifestyle. I definitely had a hard time choosing between items, and left with more than I originally intended (added a clutch bag with charger and a portfolio organizer that fits an iPad).
I can comfortably vouch for the quality and design of the product and would order from online moving forward. The products also come with warranties, in case you have any trouble. Now back in New York and back to my commuting fashion-job-life, I’ve been using my Knomo backpack almost everyday. At least once a week someone asks me about it or compliments the sleek design. This company has managed to bring quality, design, and functionality into one item. Everything a modern working woman needs, without giving up her style.
I noticed while walking around London many people using Knomo bags, briefcases or backpacks, while here in New York I’ve spotted very few. I know for sure, if they keep putting out such great product and build a solid following amongst their loyal customers, we will be seeing more of these designs statewide in no time. Until then, I will continue to shop from their website and build that following.