Martina Brimmer is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Swift Industries, a Seattle-based pannier and bag company that she describes as “an ode to adventure cycling.” Her small, yet mighty team of six employees is on a mission to get people to discover the world by bicycle, and provides them with exceptional bags for their cycling adventures. Martina recently teamed up with the creative conference Struktur Event and CORDURA® brand to create a collaborative bag that would be provided to all Struktur attendees. The result is a musette-inspired pack made of black CORDURA® Lite fabric mini-ripstop and purple CORDURA® Ultralite dobby weave featuring an adjustable shoulder strap and two hand-carry handles that can be tucked away inside the bag. We caught up with Martina to learn more about her collaboration with CORDURA® and Struktur, and what makes this bag different than her other Swift Industries products.
Q. How did the collaboration between Swift Industries, CORDURA® and Struktur come about?
A. The partnership was born through Michelle and Sam at Struktur. We’ve been using CORDURA® brand fabric since the very beginning of our company for about seven or eight years, and we rely on the integrity and durability of their fabrics, as well as the colors they bring to outdoor gear and textiles, but we hadn’t previously had a relationship with the CORDURA® brand team beyond sourcing our textiles from them. When Sam and Michelle asked us to participate and design a bag for Struktur, that was really when we started to have a one-on-one relationship with CORDURA®. It’s been really amazing to meet the folks on that side of the brand.
Q. What was it like to work with CORDURA® on this project?
A. We all linked up in a really collaborative conversation between Struktur, CORDURA® and Swift, looked at what textiles the CORDURA® brand wants to highlight right now, and found ways to then apply the textile to a design that really spoke to Struktur and was representative of Swift’s aesthetic. It’s been wonderful to work with the folks over at CORDURA®. They sent us a lot of samples, walked us through the nuances of each textile, and have been really excited and engaged about this project. That’s been a delight. We don’t do any general lifestyle stuff like backpacks or off-bike carry, so we have never actually made a product aside from this tote that deviates from being specifically a bicycle bag.
Q. How did you choose which CORDURA® textile you wanted to use for the bag?
A. We took a look at the various samples, and considered their weight and compatibility. It was clear from the beginning that to make the most of CORDURA® brand’s generosity, we really wanted to highlight two of the textiles they had brought to the table. Then it was a process of looking at which two worked beautifully and seamlessly in our design. We ended up choosing a CORDURA® dobby, and then we used a 210 CORDURA® mini-ripstop. It feels like a quintessentially outdoor textile. It’s what you think of when you think of a backpack, but it’s lighter weight than a standard 1000-denier backpack textile. It was nice to bring something lighter with a slightly different finish to it.
I’m not going to lie. Color is my muse, so that was pretty important when I was selecting the textiles, too. That’s hands down a huge part of our character or signature as a company, using color and unconventional color in terms of what we have seen previous to Swift in the outdoor market. That was really fun to select colors that felt representative of where we’re at.
Q. What was the inspiration for the design of the bag?
A. We’ve got this pretty wonderful, very simple bag that’s used in cycling called a musette and a lot of folks just use it as an over the shoulder, single strap, usually cross body bag. They’re delightfully simple and very traditional in cycling, so it translates beautifully to an event bag or a tote bag that has a flatter silhouette to it. We wanted to make sure that our identity as a cycling-based company really shone through in the product that we designed, but we had to make some adjustments. A musette is traditionally quite a bit smaller than an event tote bag, and honestly, I chose the dimensions of the musette based on RANGE Magazine because I thought it was beautiful. We didn’t want the large format of your magazine to get marred if it was carried in our bag, so I pulled out my own copy of RANGE Magazine and measured it, and it fits beautifully inside the tote bag we created for Struktur. We made something traditional, something that spoke to cycling, and then made it really appropriate for what Struktur is doing.
Q. Is the bag a limited-edition run?
A. Yeah, totally. This particular bag, these colors and very specific details are really unique to Struktur. We’ve put a Tyvek® label inside of every single bag that has the Struktur logo printed on it and each one of our sewers has signed the bag that they’ve been a part of manufacturing. We’ve numbered all of them. Those are the ways that these bags are whole-heartedly for Struktur. It makes it personal for everyone, also for us, since we get to sign something and send it off. It sounds cheesy, but there’s a very different emotional connection.
Q. What do you look for in a brand collaboration?
A. We’ve had a lot of fun working with a couple of brands. It’s been kind of important to me to take on collaborations as unique products. I think that there’s been a very visible trend to take an existing product, slap two brand names together with an “x” in between, and call it a collaboration. I think that a really shining example of a collaboration is when both companies really come to the table and work together, right?
Q. Are you interested in continuing to partner with CORDURA® and Struktur in the future?
A. Yes, by all means. For me, working with CORDURA® is invaluable because I’m not trained in this profession. I’m completely a self-made designer, maker and manufacturer, and my lack of professional education can make textile sourcing and education a blind spot for me at times, so what better than to have a relationship with a company that is creating and innovating the textiles themselves? In terms of Struktur, I feel like one of their loudest cheerleaders. I think Sam and Michelle have created a really amazing opportunity to re-inspire. It’s like my annual reboot. Anything I can bring to the table to support Struktur, I’m so happy to do because it’s been really critical to my creative process and has made me feel really rejuvenated and alive and full of ideas. I come away super refreshed every year.
Images courtesy of CORDURA® brand.