Design Trend: “People are sick of that tech look,” says head of Makr, but is it just about looks?

“People are sick of that tech look—nylon, overly masculine,” says Jason Gregory, owner and designer of Makr Carry Goods.*

The Duluth-Pack-inspired Farm Ruck bag (above) is, like all Makr Carry Goods, hand-sewn and made in the USA in a workshop with with low-waste microproduction methods. Every element of Makr products is hand-crafted in small batches, on-site, by local Florida artisans.

Sounds tasty.

What I love about this product launch is that the bag’s design is strongly bound to production methods that purposefully diverge from mass production methods, from non-organic material, and from outsourcing conventions. Does a downturn in “the tech look” echo a growing malaise over other things technological, or even other ripples of modern life? If so, we might expect designs in apparel, accessories, textiles and footwear to reflect this more in the coming future.

I wonder what my former employer, The Territory Ahead (TTA), might make of this bag. I’ve always felt honored to have worked there alongside apparel and accessory designers creating pieces founded on a similarly “anti-civilized” ideal (the early slogan, borrowed from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn). Unfortunately, with TTA, the marketed ideal stops at the design level, as production is outsourced abroad, per much of the industry’s convention. Such are the current normative constraints of cost control.

But perhaps there is a widening opportunity to marry design to responsible production and, by extension, to more responsible marketing and consumer trends.

According to Fast Company, other apparel brands including Marc Jacobs and Chanel have launched similar rucksacks in this fall’s 2010 collection, and at higher prices than Makr’s $150 bag. In so doing, they are tapping into the 60% of accessory buyers who are willing to spend $300 or less as a simple investment—a large market willing to spend on quality craft over inexpensive manufacturing.

Perhaps other accessory and apparel designer-manufacturers, including my former employer, might soon be moved to launch signature lines based on domestic artisanal production, without fearing low sales for a higher retail price. Consumers might just be ready to embrace it.

After all, if we are what we eat, are we not also what we consume? I dare say, I think the days of dismissible piggishness are over. While spending $150 for a bag may appear to be piggish to some, it’s arguably less piggish than buying a $20 bag whose low-cost manufacture is essentially subsidized by high-waste mass production, among other high-cost by-products. I sense that the forecast for the implied trend ahead is strongly optimistic.

Here’s one for the well-made, simply designed. Cheers!

* Excerpt from Fast Company at: http://bit.ly/bVsDgV
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