We passed a man moving band equipment to one side in a dark corridor as we boarded a service elevator. We clunked the door shut and hit number 1. The lift rose slowly as we headed to meet Alec from Trakke.
Trakke is a Glasgow based outdoor lifestyle brand. They produce kit you can wear in the city and also when you go to the hills. It was set up by Alec while he was studying graphic design at Glasgow School of Art and at weekends he would go and raid through skips and find whatever materials he could get his hands on from old prams to abandoned suitcases and everything in between. Then he’d cut his findings apart and start to make products out of it on his “old crappy domestic sewing machine". It wasn’t long before he settled on making cycling bags. He then started to sell these bags on a market in the east end of Glasgow and soon sold nearly 250 hand made individual bags. “I thought if I’m going to do this properly I want to do it to the best of my ability,” he said. He knew that raiding skips wasn’t exactly a career move so he broadened his approach and set about forging strong relationships with great British manufacturing companies, some of which had been around for close on 200 years.
Trakke now work out of a building in the city and occupy a large space neatly split up into specific sections. As we entered the room to our left we were met with a fantastic array of colours from the latest selection of Trakke bags, some hanging and others neatly placed on a bespoke shelving system. On our right, Alec was separated from us by a floor to ceiling glass wall. He sat at the computer engrossed in his work but Madeleine Wilson greeted us and gave us a quick tour. Just past the office entrance the space opened up and in front of us were a number of classic Singer sewing machines, and neatly placed in the corner was the Trakke yurt which stood proud. As we rounded the corner there were a selection of fabrics neatly rolled, a shelf with easily accessible green drawers and two people busy making a list of orders.
Alec came and joined us and we headed over to a piece of fabric we’d noticed earlier… it was dark blue and felt pretty tough. Alec unrolled a little and told us about the fabric which is wax cotton, looks beautiful, ages well and is very durable. “It was originally invented in Scotland by fishermen so it has a great history forged in this country, as indeed does the Harris tweed that we use which is woven by pedal in the weavers homes, shipped to the workshop and turned into bags for cycling.”
The bags have a great versatility and you can get a lot of use out if them. As well as using the best materials available they are individually made by a small passionate team. When a bag is being cut Trakke sends the customer a photo and then another when it is being assembled, keeping them in the loop at all times about the production and also giving them an insight into the workshop. Alec said “It’s great when customers get back in touch and we see our bags well traveled. We got a photo from a girl who bought one of our weekend bags and took it around South America for 6 months”.
Each bag is unique. It is individually made by professionals who take a pride in what they do. They are built to last and the materials look even better with age, seeming to fit to the person like a good pair of jeans. Every scuff, every mark helps build up a unique pattern to the owner and their adventures. As we left we knew it wouldn't be long before we had a Trakke bag on our backs.