Christensen Bags Redefine Danish Design with a West Coast Spirit
Do Danes do it better? That’s a question every student of midcentury design asks himself, though that question may soon be coming up amongst fashion hounds. Known for its understated yet handsome line, Christensen Bags is the little known San Francisco-based brand that we discovered recently and simply can’t quite get enough of. Founded by Danish native Neil Christensen and his wife just over a year ago, the brand started out with the signature Platypus leather shoulder bag but now offers more than a dozen combinations of leather and canvas in various colorways.
“The feature is that there aren’t features,” says Christensen, who traces the concept of the brand back to when he ran a vintage bike import business and found that people were equally if not more interested in having accessories for their bikes. “It’s not an adventure sport bag. You can use it for work but also after work, and it doesn’t look like a nylon messenger bag,” he adds, explaining that the other impetus was one day finding himself in search of the perfect shoulder bag.
What Christensen has worked on since is setting the bar for everyday bags made from the best materials. Christensen only uses Horween leathers and waxed canvas courtesy of Martin Dyeing and Finishing from Bridgeport, NJ. The bags are also impeccably constructed: Christensen works with a third-generation saddle maker out of LA so everything from his stitching to the keepers on the front of his bags are faultlessly executed. (It’s worth mentioning that the keepers of the all-leather bags are made just tight enough so that the platypus-looking flap, once pulled through, stays put and doesn’t travel up or down. Christensen adds a stud to his canvas offerings, but does so because the material allows for users to pack more and in the process put more stress on the construction.
So far style numbers 7 and 4, as seen on his site, have been the most popular styles as well as any offerings in olive, black, tan and wheat. Guys are also gravitating towards his lightly waxed black and English tan leathers, the latter of which ages beautifully, turning a darker, richer color. The wheat, by comparison, stays a few shades lighter than the English tan when aged, but even then moves more in the direction of a brown.
Christensen adds that if there’s an item out of stock the customer wants, he’ll put them on a waiting list and offer a discount. Fortunately fans may not have to wait too long before owning a piece of Christensen’s. On the drawing board are briefcases with handles and zip tops, travel-friendly totes with heavy-duty canvas interiors and lighter canvas exteriors, carryalls, wallets and even tablet sleeves. Christensen says he’ll also do more road trips to discover new leathers that he can add to the assortment, though insists on bringing it all back to his roots. Says the designer, “When I was a kid there were a lot of leather products that had a midcentury aesthetic that would be used and they were often in that color tone [of wheat]. Just very simple, very clean lines without a lot going on so you let the leather speak and have that visible stitching. I like that sort of stuff.”