Thursday, May 19, 2011

What a Piece: Canvas Duffel Bag

Esquire Magazine is consistently pushing their style/fashion book, Esquire's Big Black Book. On their site, they have a related slideshow on what they say is a new American style revolution. It's one of the few mainstream publications that are trying to set the tone - now that the so-called American trend looks like it's going to stick around.

It's been a trend for well over a year now - since the recession really started to grab hold on the day-to-day lives of Americans. What I hope people realize is that this is not really a trend, but rather it is now the norm. This is the way things will be from now on, for some time. Back to basics, personalization, individuality, vintage, classic - keywords that you will hear time and time again.

#6 of their "60 products, places, people and ideas that transforming the way we dress in 2011" is the canvas duffel bag. The bad thing is that new canvas duffel bags are expensive. There are a few that you can get for under $100, but most are far beyond that, and even fewer are small enough to actually be called duffels.

I found a vintage canvas duffel bag recently, and though it has been used well (as it was built/meant to be used), it's still a fantastic bag - full of character and life. The black stripes give it that extra style, and the brass knobs on the bottom supply a solid foundation to rest upon, allowing the duffel to stand without slouching. Size: 15" L x 8" H x 7" W

The other vintage canvas duffel bag I came across was fairly small, but like the other one, still in decent condition and still a great little bag. The canvas on this littler one is not as stiff as the other, but it has the cool red piping that gives it its standout quality. Size: 12" L x 6" H x 5" W

Here's more of what Esquire has to say about the canvas duffel bag:
"Because, when you're itching to escape, nothing beats one of these tough, sturdy SOBs for sheer utility. Toss it into a taxi's trunk or onto the luggage rack of a tour bus, and the canvas shell (which is actually tightly woven cotton) can take whatever fresh hell your travels entail. Do yourself a favor, though, and leave that free PBS canvas duffel at home. Better to invest in something with a distinctive look than to chance a baggage mix-up when you (finally) arrive at your final destination."

Utility is the key word here, as these types of bags used to be primarily for tradesmen (i.e. masons, engineers, etc.).

Here are a number of new bags available, ranging in price, size, and style - many of them are made in the USA, which we would obviously recommend:

J. Crew Rugged Twill Travel Bag - $168
Brook Farm General Store Canvas and Leather Tool Bag - $79
Herschel Supply Co. Novel Duffel Bag (at Nordstrom) - $75
Jack Spade Mitchell Military Canvas Duffel Bag (at Nordstrom) - $395
Jack Spade Boat Canvas Duffel Bag (at Nordstrom) - $245
Alternative Canvas Duffle Bag - $138
Wm. J. Mills & Co. Classic Duck Duffel Bag - $130-$150
Port Canvas Cruiser Duffel Bag - $55 + options
J.W. Hulme Co. Classic Field Duffle Bag - $365
Frost River Small Explorer Duffel Bag - $110
Ernest Alexander British Tan Wax Overnight Bag - $395
Beckel Canvas Products Olive Drab War Bag - $68.95
Beckel Canvas Products Possibilities Bag - $63.95


  1. The Wm. J. Mills & Co. Classic Duck Duffel bags come in five sizes and are also available at select retailers in Waxed twill as part of the Dry Series Duffels. For waxed twill try Context Clothing in Madison Wisconsin or George Bass in New Orleans.

  2. What a Piece: Canvas Duffel Bag. Esquire Magazine is consistently pushing their style/fashion book, Esquire's Big Black Book. On their site ...