We sat down with Mark Musgrave from The Level Collective to find out about his brand new creation and Kickstarter campaign…
Tell us a little bit about your background and what inspired you to design the Winnats Roll Top backpack?
Well, I’m a designer based in Sheffield and I started The Level Collective just over three years ago as a side project that has now got a bit out of hand… but in a good way. It’s grown organically through Instagram and I now run it 2-3 days per week alongside freelance design work to help pay the bills. I collaborate with artists and makers to create ethical outdoor supplies such as graphic t-shirts, sweaters, beanies and water bottles… and now a backpack and utility pack.
I’d noticed that many outdoorsy backpacks are very functional looking – plasticky and busy with lots of toggles and buckles, which for most people, are just unnecessary and make them untidy for wearing around the city or for work.
I thought it would be great to design a backpack that performed well outdoors but was much more minimalist and design-led so it can look smart whether you’re roaming in the great outdoors or in the city.
I decided to use natural ingredients such as the Halley Stevensons waxed cotton from Scotland and vegetable tan leather details from Derbyshire. Both materials perform well outdoors but also gain beauty and character with age as they get scuffed-up and take on a vintage and well-loved aesthetic like an old pair of boots. It’s a bag that’s made to be loved and used for years to come.
I also wanted every aspect of the bag to be ethically made, sourced as locally as possible, and hand-crafted in the UK. I’ve enjoyed discovering that we have so much manufacturing talent here in Britain and it’s a shame to see that decline through outsourcing to cheaper economies. I think more and more people are taking an interest in where their clothing and apparel is made, and I want to support British manufacturing wherever possible.
You’ve recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for the backpack project, what will the funds enable you to do?
For those of your not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s basically a really great website that allows people to support or “pledge” money so different ideas and projects can happen. Projects can range from art, engineering and trips, to publishing and film, anything really. People are usually given different “Rewards” based on the pledge amount. Some rewards are really small and simple like a ‘thank you’ email, right up to starring in the would-be film, or in my case; pre-ordering the backpack!
I’m using Kickstarter to help fund my first small batch of backpacks because they’re really expensive to create and I don’t have the cash to make them up front. I also wanted to see what people think about them and whether they are willing to pre-order them.
It’s amazing to be able to offer a product to the world without having to afford to manufacture them all up front.
How can people support the project & what rewards are on offer for people who pledge to back the project?
Well, people simply sharing the Winnats Roll Top Backpack Kickstarter project with friends and family on social media is a huge help. Even if it’s not quite ‘your bag’ (pun shamelessly intended), one of your friends may love it!
I’ve also got quite a few different rewards at different prices because I’d love people to be able to support my project in whatever way they can.
Enamel pin badges and scout patches seem to be really popular so far, and I’ve also designed the Peaks Utility Pack which is made from the same Waxed Cotton and British Leather as the backpack. These are designed to be used for camping accessories, pencil case, wash bag… you name it. And of course we have the Winnats Roll Top Backpack itself, which people can pre-order for a Kickstarter intro price of £159 - after Kickstarter they’ll be priced at £179. I’m only making 100 of these in time for Christmas and quite a few have already gone.
And finally, how long do people have left to pledge to support the Winnats Roll Top?
Well the Kickstarter ends on 16 October so not too long left now. I’d be very grateful for whatever support people can give!
You can see the video of making the bag and all the different rewards at my Winnats Roll Top Backpack Kickstarter.
Interview by Felicity Jackson
Images courtesy of The Level Collective