If you were to write a book about die-hard New Englander and bag designer Alice Saunders, might we suggest the title From Farm to Fashion? “I was doing organic farm and landscaping work—something I thought I would be doing for the rest of my life,” says Alice. “It was a seasonal job, so the winter break gave me ample time to work on projects.” One of these cold-weather undertakings: sewing up small bags and pouches for friends.
But the day she discovered a WWII-era duffle while fishing through a flea market in Massachusetts in 2008 shifted her focus. “It hit me that I could take the bag apart and use the beautiful, worn-in canvas to make a new bag I would want to carry around all day,” explains the Boston-based designer. Bam: Forestbound was born.
Five years later, Alice is still in love with that first score and the meaning it holds for her—both of her grandfathers served in WWII and her dad in Vietnam. “It’s pretty incredible to create bags that let people literally hold a piece of history over their arm,” says Alice, who has since sourced material from military bed rolls, tents, cots, stretchers, and U.S. Navy denim barracks bags as well. “I spend a lot of time in my studio taking apart the bags and thinking about the soldiers who carried them. I say a thank you every time I start cutting.” —alisha prakash