Bag This Outer

Undercover pairing with Eastpak is not unusual. But the apparel they produced is

Eastpak has collaborated with designers on what they specialise in: bags. Names they have shared on the labelling of their wares include Raf Simons, Vivienne Westwood, and most recently, Margiela. But all these collabs yielded only bags. Until Undercover comes along. Shown during Undercover’s charming autumn/winter 2021 collection in January, the two brands offer not bags per se, but outerwear that constitutes some of the most fetching of the season. This is the first for Eastpak: clothing. And by the looks of it, this may not be the last.

Incorporating bags or fabric used in their manufacturer is a particular area of collaborative design that the Japanese do so well, as previously seen with The North Face and Junya Watanabe, as well as Nanamica for the The North Face Purple Label. In that respect, what Undercover has done with Eastpak is rather late in the game, But, as it is often said, better late than never. And it is hard to imagine the never after seeing these wearing garments with the quirky ‘bag’ details. Should they really be there? Can you store anything in them?

There are at least six styles in the capsule. From a bomber to a parka to a car coat, each comes with bag-pockets of varying sizes, as well as short handles—as seen on the top of backpacks—under the rear of the collar, above the yoke (one even emerges from there). The outers come in some strong colours too, such as the above Wellington yellow, as well as a bright red and a dark green. A real pity that we are not likely in need of one of them. Many of us are not travelling, only dreaming of it.

Undercover X Eastpak launches on Christmas Day at Undercover stores, Tokyo. Photo: Undercover

Stripes On The Bag

Raf Simons Eastpak backpack

Some American heritage brands are getting increased fashion credibility due to their alignment with designers, a trend started by the Japanese, who seek authenticity for their own products. One of these brands is Eastpak, originally a manufacturer of military bags for the US army. In 2004, their first fashion collaboration was with the flamboyant Belgium designer Water Van Beirendonck. Since then, Eastpak has worked only with the more cutting-edge designers such as Kris Van Assche and Raf Simons.

Eastpak’s latest pieces with the newly-minted haute couturier Raf Simons was first revealled during the men’s wear show in Paris in January this year. This is the pairing’s fourth season, and there’s no sign of collab fatigue. Reworking EastPak’s classic Padded Pak’r, Mr Simons convinces us that backpacks can be luxurious bags if created in the right fabrics sans superfluousRaf Simons AW 2013 w Eastpak details (such as studs!). These backpacks have an incredible hand feel due to the fabric’s silky jacquard finish, which is a complete opposite of the crushed canvas of the collaboration’s first season, perhaps hinting at Mr Simons graduation from once a street-looking designer to one now with the advantage of a French atelier. While the awning stripes may be too much or jailbird-like to some, they are in keeping with the Raf Simons graphic sensibility.

As befitting an article with couture leanings, the way to carry this backpack is to tug it under the arm without a care, just as it is shown on the catwalk.

The Eastpak Raf Simons Collection backpack is available at Eastpak, Plaza Singapura, for SGD329