Get Inside the Baggu Design Process
A peek inside the Williamsburg office..
Ever since its inception, Baggu has been a bi-coastal effort: Joan Sugihara lives in San Diego while her daughter, Emily, is a New York transplant. Today, Baggu—which makes bags that suit left coasters, right coasters, and everyone in between—houses its ten-person team in a clean-and-cool Brooklyn studio, with Joan chiming in from sunny Cali. Here, Emily and creative director Ellen van der Laan tell us how all those colorful Baggu creations—including the suede pouches exclusive to Of a Kind!—come about.
The stylin’ mother-and-daughter duo circa 1985.
On developing new bag shapes
Emily: “We usually start with some kind of need—like, ‘Oh, I’ve been trying to find a laptop case, but they’re all hideous. I think we should start making this.’ Then we kick around with an idea for a few months—so it’s all really organic.”
Ellen: “There’s a mix between us thinking about a product that we’d like to make and then us talking to Joan about it. She’ll send something that she’s worked on—or, like with our canvas backpack, she just showed up on a visit with one she’d sewn. If something seems useful, we’ll make it.”
A rainbow wall of Baggu creations on display.
On their smorgasbord of colors
Emily: “Our color preferences change. We started out with jewel tones—a fuchsia, a deep turquoise peacock, and an olive green. For the last couple years, we’ve been really into neons and clear colors.”
Ellen: “And eighties California surf stuff, with all the teal and washed-out pinks.”
A bag from Baggu’s second go-around with No.6.
On those silly-good collaborations
Emily: “No.6 just called our 800 number—they wanted to order bags for their store. I didn’t know who they were and was just like, ‘Uh, I don’t know. You have to meet our minimums.’ Everyone who knew was like, ‘They’re so cool—just be nice to them!!!’”
Ellen: “Shabd was actually someone Emily’s dad saw on Martha Stewart, and told Joan about. Joan thought we might be friends with her. We ended up getting in touch with Shabd, and she dyed the bags with colors within our palette.”
Shopping for suede for the Of a Kind edition.
On their move to leather
Emily: “For a while, I was carrying the nylon Baggus like a purse—I loved carrying my own stuff, but I also liked having a nicer purse. So we thought, ‘This shopping bag would look so cool made out of leather.’ We hadn’t worked with leather before—it’s extremely variable. It’s not like canvas where you weave it to a set width, and every bag’s the same. The pouches come from the scrap piece you get from cutting out the neck of the bigger bag—we design all our patterns in a way that minimizes material use.”