To pack more wallop among the denim-and-leather set, Levi’s is turning to people like Alice Saunders, a 29-year-old designer and history buff in Boston with a fetish for World War II duffel bags. Saunders, ironically, could care less about mainstream fashion, preferring vintage felt hats and rustic jewelry. What Levi’s likes is her passion and the $165 one-of-a-kind tote bags she creates for her Forestbound brand using old, salvaged military fabrics. “My ultimate find is an old Navy duffle bag that the sailor had hand painted with pictures of pinup girls or palm trees,” Saunders says. “I can make it into a tote that tells the history of that time.”
Levi’s promotes Saunders and her products on its blog and sells her bags with its Levi’s Makers tag at the brand’s boutique shops in the U.S. Never mind that almost all Levi’s clothes are mass-produced in huge factories overseas; the “maker” movement and designers like Saunders are now part of the Levi’s brand. The maker movement, as we know, is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers like Saunders. A convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans, the niche is established enough to have its own magazine, Make, as well as hands-on Maker Faires that are catnip for DIYers who used to toil in solitude. Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers. The creations, born in cluttered local workshops and bedroom offices, stir the imaginations of consumers numbed by generic, mass-produced, made-in–China merchandise.
Categories: Collaborative Economy