Fashionable Bike Bags With Some Welcome Surprises
Bagonia bags attach with 'bracelets' - photos via Her Niche.
We at TreeHugger advocate for city bike style, if not urban biking fashion. And of course, we love it when designers combine a city aesthetic with solid sustainability cred. And that is exactly what newcomer company Her Niche aims to do with their Bagonia eARTh bike bags - trying to find that slim edge between needed bike utility and fashion. Perhaps finding the sweet spot necessarily entails a hefty price - the latest honey-colored Rose bag about has a $349 price tag. However, according to its designers, eARTh has more than one incredibly smart feature that will make the bag worth the price.
Solving the curse of the forgotten shopping bagTwo of the strongest features of Her Niche eARTh bag are their use of sustainable materials, and the fact that inside these fashionable bags are two, or in some cases three extra bags - at least one lightweight shopping/grocery bag, and a small extra clutch that can be hand-held and also attached by its bracelet strap to one of the bars of a bike.
Because easy portability is one of the main features city bikers are looking for, this inclusion of shopping bags in what is essentially a purse is a big plus. But is it enough to make the $299 - $349 price range agreeable?
TreeHugger put the question to Her Niche, and here's what they had to say:
"We’ve learned first-hand why people prefer to outsource manufacturing to Asia – in the US you have to source every single thing that goes into your product and then deliver it to your factory in a nice package. As a socially-responsible company we source and purchase textiles, zippers, hardware, etc. mostly in Southern California. After we’ve found everything we need to make our products we then take it to our factory in Los Angles where we pay U.S. dollars for ethical labor and quality handmade products. Sadly our factory has had to layoff 75% of its work force due to outsourcing…we’re a new and small company and because of us they are still in operation."
Buying one of the company's Bagonia (women's) or Birch (men's) bags, Her Niche says, gets you a lot more than just a purse or messenger bag.
"You’re getting a chic multi-functioning tool that helps to organize your life, lighten your carbon footprint, look stylish and feel great because you’re saving time and personal energy. People are paying anywhere from $200 to over a $1,000 dollars for a single purpose bag that was mass-produced over seas for just $20 or $30 dollars. The purchase of a Bagonia and/ or Birch has a positive macro effect on our economy and society…it keeps businesses from shutting down, people employed and able to take care of their families, it minimizes carbon emission output from mass transport of products, it reduces space in landfills, empowers people to end the plastic and paper bag plague and encourages people to use bikes as alternative transportation thereby increasing their health and reducing air pollution and the use of fossil fuels."
All that for $349 suddenly seems, if not more affordable, price-worthy. Her Niche emphasized that they take special care to try to use less harmful materials.
"The exterior of our bags are from man-made materials that replicate the look and feel of leather, snakeskin, crocodile, suede and silk. We believe in creating 100% cruelty free products for a couple reasons: 1) the harmful effect cattle raising has on the environment, and 2) we do not support the harming of animals. Our vegan materials are made of recycled polyester and plastic whenever available. People are amazed when we tell them our bags are not real leather (some people even smell them because they don’t believe us). The interiors are organic cotton, lycocell fiber (also known as Tencel©) with vegetable die, and/ or reclaimed textiles."
All about fashion and functionTo me, fashion and function have generally tended to be mutually exclusive, so Her Niche's attempt to fuse these two is welcome. Right now my combination of a many-pocketed cloth purse (with one or two polyethylene shopping bags inside) for all my essentials plus a bag for work papers and computer, and then a detachable basket on the bike to carry the two is not exactly streamlined. While I can't see how a switch to any of the dozen-odd Bagonia styles might solve all carrying needs, I do appreciate that Her Niche designers are definitely trying to do so, and still keeping an eye to the color and variety to help each of us find a personal style. If you think there's a better bag (striving to use sustainable materials and ethical production) to meet those multi-faceted needs, tell us about it in comments.
Read more at TreeHugger about bike luggage5 Stylin' Ways to Haul Stuff on Your Bike HandlebarsThe Bike Porter Integrates a Basket Into the HandlebarsFive Solutions for Carrying Nearly Anything on the Back of a Bike