"People are sick of that tech look — nylon, overly masculine," says Jason Gregory, owner and designer of Makr Carry Goods. Hence the Farm Ruck, which, like everything else from Makr, is hand-sewn in a workshop just outside of Orlando, Florida. The bag, inspired by a classic Duluth Pack, is made of thick canvas with straps of dense and durable horse leather.
The Farm Ruck hits the market at the perfect time. Alexander Wang, Chanel, and Marc by Marc Jacobs all sent reimagined rucksacks down the fall 2010 runway, but unlike their bags, the Farm Ruck is priced at just $150. That's ideal for what analyst Nikoleta Panteva of IBISWorld calls "aspirational shoppers," who account for 60% of accessories spending and buy "simple investment pieces at $300 or less."
Also on trend: Gregory's low-waste manufacturing process. While he doesn't consider Makr "green," his microproduction methods keep waste low — he'd sooner run out of a product than see any go unused — and quality high. And while Orlando may be the last place you'd expect to find what in many ways is an old-fashioned workshop, Gregory explains that his hometown, which he calls "the weirdest place ever," is really his inspiration. "There's a lot of great stuff going on, but there's no soul," he says. "I make my products to create something real."
A version of this article appeared in the September 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.