Say you’re ready to graduate from the canvas backpack you’ve sported since college but don’t want to lose its functionality. What to buy? Consider Haerfest (pronounced “harvest”), the sleek lifestyle accessories brand, known for its clean lines and luxurious materials, now dropping at some of the world’s finest boutiques including London’s LN-CC and Malmo’s Tres Bien Shop and Opening Ceremony and Machus here in the US.
“I thought it would be nice to have a basic backpack in leather that I could wear to any occasion because I’d be going from work to going out with friends,” says Tim Joo, whom prior to launching Haerfest, worked in product development and production for the cult retailer Opening Ceremony. As the story goes, Joo had been conducting his usual experimental designs on apparel and accessories, when one day one of his backpacks caught the eye of a buyer and triggered a conversation about growing the line into something larger.
Working alongside his brother Dan, a former automation developer for IBM, the siblings now offer everything from backpacks to duffle bags to iPad sleeves, sneakers and small leather goods including key rings and card cases. The goal, as Dan explains, is “to connect with our audience through their sensibilities and the things they interact with, not the type of clothing that they wear.”
Indeed, one of the most surprising hit products for them has been a brass shoe horn, created as a gift to accompany pre-ordered sneakers. That shoe horn became one of several “AE Projects,” one-off experimental design initiatives, the siblings put out in between their two selling seasons. Other AE Projects include special edition backpacks, sneakers and the forthcoming display hooks made in collaboration with an upstate furniture designer.
Haerfest’s most coveted items to date, however, are the backpacks, made from PVC and gray lambskin and known for their non-glossy, “cool skin” finish and double brass ring and stud reinforcements. PVC is traditionally slick, but because the siblings wanted to stay away from anything glossy, they looked for a matte version, then experimented on it with dyes and heat to create its signature “ghost” aesthetic. The material is also water-resistant and surprisingly semi-sheer. With ever rising demand for backpacks, the company will most likely continue to offer canvas and leather bags and explore new materials. Says Tim, “There’s a lot of competition but we’re trying to stay true to us.”