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Behind The Scenes

A Look Inside Albert Chu’s Bag

Since his Gameboy days, Albert Chu has been carrying around a pouch to store his essentials. He might have moved beyond Tetris, but he turned his fondness for a little carryall into a hyper-high-functioning bag line Otaat. Take a look at what Albert’s got with him on a daily basis. —jackie varriano “Sneak-preview alert! I’ve been carrying my upcoming Topher Bag a lot lately. I’m really excited about it because it’s such a tight, compact backpack. And is it crazy for me to say that it’s just really comfortable? Padded straps are awesome.” “I carry this 10 euro note with me everywhere. A couple summers ago, I met my family in Istanbul, after a layover in Frankfurt. On the plane, I sat next to this wonderful German lady who grandmothered me—i.e., made sure I was well-fed on the plane and nicely yet firmly scolded me about not being prepared with snacks. As we deplaned, she asked whether I had any cash to buy lunch at the airport. I replied that I was fine and could use my credit card. ‘Credit cards charge fees! It’s a waste of money!’ she said. Next thing I know, she grabbed my hand and placed this 10 euro note in my palm and disappeared! Two takeaways: 1) There are amazing, generous people, and 2) I must have looked terrible to warrant such welfare!” “When I was in Paris, I was carrying two big pieces of luggage with me and was lumbering through the Metro, and a pickpocket stole my wallet, a beautiful Dunhill with green kidskin lining and marbled exterior. I replaced it with this Dunhill wallet, which I’ve carried for about eight years now. It’s ridiculously huge! Probably the biggest bi-fold wallet I’ve seen. When it’s full—of receipts—it’s a monster.” “One should always eat healthily, right? That’s why I carry fruit—typically an apple, orange, maybe some carrots—in my bag. And, even better: It’s from my Farm Fresh farm box.” “I always have my car key and my key chain, which I was gifted upon graduating from high school (whoa). The key chain is a simple, stainless steel ring with a tag that’s monogrammed with my initials. And now to make it L.A.-specific: I always keep my car key separate from my key chain because it makes valet parking that much easier.” “Though perhaps not the most effective sunnies on the planet, I still love this Benjamin Montoya pair because they are super light, have a fun shape, and have a subtle gradation. Plus, it makes for a good ice-breaker when people ask whether you’re wearing Transitions lenses.” “A good friend went through a phase where she used disposable cameras to scout locations, document randoms, and take beautiful photos. I copied her. I love these cameras because you take photos that are not delete-able and get fun reactions from photo subjects.” “The Ninja Pouch is my breakaway pouch—like how Roller zooms out from Optimus Prime. I typically use the Large Ninja Pouch as a folio where I store documents, papers, notepads, and my iPad. I’ve been using it for a while now, so it’s worn-in and even softer than when it was new.” “I always carry the Flap Card Holder for my business cards—always be prepared, right?—and a series of sketchbooks. I burn through sketchbooks and like carrying multiple—recently a coverless Japanese one from OK, a Moleskine, and a Muji.” “There’s so much sun in Los Angeles, and that’s one reason why I really enjoy it. But sometimes, I just want some shade, and so I always have a hat with me. Recently, I’ve been carrying this one by FairEnds. Not only does it block the sun, push back my hair, and help me think (yes, I use it as a thinking cap), but this railroad-stripe pattern also reminds me of my favorite pair of childhood shorts that my mom and sister got me from Printemps back in the day. I think I wore those shorts for two years straight.” Come back tomorrow for Albert’s edition, which you’re going to want to carry everyday. Get on our email list so you don’t miss it!
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The Man Behind Otaat Goes on an L.A. Food Binge

Albert Chu of the super-slick leather label Otaat tends to have mad cravings. For him, it’s about the impulse, the indulgence, and the absolute ridiculousness of it all. Curious where he goes to get a food fix? Check out his eight favorite destinations around Los Angeles—but, unless you’re Kobayashi, space this stuff out. —jackie varriano Before you fall into a food coma, score Albert’s delicious (looking!) leather cardholder. La Brea Bakery“This may be the one healthy craving I typically have: the marinated artichoke heart sandwich from La Brea Bakery’s original location. Black olive bread is spread with a touch of pesto, then stocked with soft ricotta cheese, topped with marinated artichoke hearts, and sprinkled with a bit of arugula for that slight crunch and bitterness. It’s so great.” El Chato“When working late nights, I always get at least two chorizo tacos as a starter and one burrito al pastor as the main. It’s the perfect meal for saturating your taste buds and for stocking up on salts and electrolytes for exercise. Ha!” Café Gratitude“I love mint chocolate chip ice cream, so what’s better than having it in liquid form? The vegan smoothie has Vitamineral—I don’t really know what that is, but it sounds healthy. Plus, the drink is called ‘I Am Cool,’ so it’s a funny little ego-boost.” M Café“The fries from M Café are drool-worthy. When I’m in the mood for a quick snack of salted, nori-tinged, starchy goodness, this is what I get—and that’s more often than I care to confess.” Clementine“These are probably my favorite chocolate chip cookies in Los Angeles. The texture is simultaneously crunchy and chewy—I always get at least two. They remind me of my mom’s chocolate chip cookies from childhood.” Half and Half Tea House“I refer to the drinks at Half and Half as ‘boba crack’—sweet, milky, and caffeinated jitter-inducers. I always get the iced milk drink with grass jelly.” Proof Bakery“One body part that I always want to protect is the tuft of gum behind my front two teeth, so baguette sandwiches are usually seen a dangerous threat. Not so with the ones from Proof. Their sandwiches—I love the ones with beets and goat cheese—are made with their trademark thin, just-the-right-crunch baguettes sprinkled with sea salt, and they are texturally fantastic!” Crow Burger“Sure, their duck-fat fries are craving-worth, but really, what gets me to drive across county lines is their chocolate milkshake (pistachios optional). It’s got a throwback flavor—to a time when milkshakes were made with chocolate ice cream, instead of chocolate syrup. So what if a waitress said that they are 1,000 calories? It’s both a snack and a meal!”
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