This year Urban Industry turns 15 years old, we've been stocking some of the best independent streetwear brands for that entire time and in an ever changing market place we're going back to our roots. We've often been one of the first, if not the first, to bring a new brand to the UK market and to mark our 15th anniversary we're on the hunt again for new, interesting, inspiring brands from around the world. SAND Pack Co. is one such brand we've discovered, a small independent and artisan pack manufacturer on the west coast of America producing beautiful hand made packs.
We caught up with Christopher who personally hand makes each and every pack our in Portland about how he got started with SAND Pack Co. and where he's presently developing the brand moving forward.
Hi Christoper, can you introduce yourself? (Name, age, where do you live snd produce Sand)
I'm Christopher Leiter. I'm 33. I live and work on SAND Pack Co. and other projects in beautiful Portland, Oregon.
How long have you been hand making packs? Did the Sand Pack Company start at the same time?
I've been sewing for about 15 years, making utility cases, hats, jeans, totes, bags, coozies, you name it. Sewing is just another way to play and be creative. In the last 2 years I purchased an Adler 67 industrial sewing machine and the pack design madness started.
I grew up in the mountains in Lake Tahoe and the Sierras, we'd spend all winter in the backcountry snowboarding and filming , carrying pretty hefty packs. In the summer we'd skate all day carrying around daypacks and camera bags. I always enjoyed simple functional styles that weren’t overdesigned and overthought.
Only recently did we decide that "SAND" would represent us as a pack company. SAND (@sandisacult) was initially an idea me and my friend from art school, Ryan Massad (@morel_) came up with. We wanted to start a small apparel brand after graduating. The idea was to pose as an imaginary cult with a design department (laughs). We'd make t-shirt designs to intrigue people into the cult. We thought it was a funny way to channel our creativity. It became our place to cultivate a design style together, and come up with weird and mysterious narratives.
After I purchased an industrial sewing machine, the brand just slowly shifted into packs. We saw a rise in heritage style bags being made, but noticed that a lot of them were skimping on quality materials. The transition to packs was also based on creating with our hands instead of on computers. The use of colors, materials, and the problems you can solve are mostly tactile. I love the labor involved in sewing multiple packs, letting the machine teach you efficiency through repetition.
Is it a full time business for you now?
With the hours I spend on SAND, you could call it a full-time position, but it's more of an obsession and a side business. I have a day job as a creative director, graphic designer, product designer, and illustrator for a small design and marketing studio here in Portland, Oregon. I also do freelance logo and branding work.
What were your decisions to use Cordura and waxed canvas as the main material choices? What do they give to your creations?
Cordura is a tried-and-true fabric for functional and durable packs. It's been around forever, and it has many qualities. It's water resistant, tough, and the color palette is extensive. It comes in a lighter weight 500d and a heavier 1000d. I like to use both weights depending on the pack build.
Juxtaposition is important in my work. Waxed canvas shares some qualities with Cordura like water resistance and durability, but it instantly shows age and every fold you put into it. Pairing a piece of rugged waxed canvas next to a clean piece of Cordura makes an odd, but visually pleasing combination.
What other materials do you work with? Any new ones you want to produce a bag with?
I've just started experimenting with Dyneema X Gridstop and pairing it with cuben fiber. I'm playing around with some lighter weight materials right now. I tend to think in pairs, so if I think of a fabric I want to use, I usually try to find it's perfect mate. I'm also interested in designing some bags with X-Pack and Tyvec fabrics because of their pattern and texture. We're also always keeping our eyes out for old fabrics to upcycle into our packs.
Do you plan to make any larger bags, perhaps a SAND Backpack?
Yes. There's a bespoke side of SAND, which is mostly custom daypacks. We're planning on adding three new styles that will be available on our site to round out the line. We're working on a traditional canvas and packcloth duffel bag. We've got a minimal and functional daypack in the works that will likely be in multiple colors and fabric pairings. We're also designing a tote with Fidlock magnetic snap hardware.
What does the SAND brand look like in a years time, where do you want to take it?
Our priority is play and experimentation. We want SAND to organically grow without forcing anything. We'll keep solving problems to simplify and stylize packs for everyday carry. Our roots will continue to be in traditional outdoor fabrics combined with their unlikely counterparts. It's a creative passion and outlet for us and the majority of the magic in it comes from doing it by hand. We'd like to get into a few boutique retailers, and participate in some pop-up shops.
Anything else you might like to put out there?
Learn to repair your stuff. Packs and clothes get better with age. You can find us at sandisacult.com, and on Instagram @sandisacult. Keep an eye out for the release of our limited edition line of Urban Industry / SAND packs in the coming month. Thanks for your support.
SAND PACK CO.