Field Tested: Levi's X Billy Reid's Santa-worthy satchel
It's the Levi's Workwear by Billy Reid Apron Bag that I picked up at Reid's Houston store in October -- part of the collaborative capsule collection the menswear designer created as a perk of winning GQ's Best New Menswear Designer in America Award (Reid has since added the 2010 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award to the list).
That collection was inspired by an old blacksmith's apron Reid found in the Levi Strauss archives and Reid designed this bag -- made out of distressed and battered duck canvas bag (with 12-inch leather drop handles) to resemble it.
Not only did it prove to be a manly enough man bag to circumvent any potential ribbing from friends and family members back in Vermont, it turned out to be astonishingly roomy, transporting, over the course of my visit, three months' worth of unread magazines, a pot full of steaming jambalaya for the family Boxing Day celebration, two six-packs of Harpoon Winter Warmer and two families' worth of presents in various stages of being wrapped.
But the bag really earned its stripes during my Delta-delayed return to Los Angeles. After our Monday flight from JFK was canceled, my bride and I managed to get booked out of Boston on Tuesday -- on two separate flights. That meant I faced the prospect of being sandwiched between two strangers on two different sold-out flights with cold weather and Christmas presents ensuring that overhead bin space would be nonexistent.
Not only did it easily stow a laptop computer, a Christmas-gifted iPad (still in box), a J. Crew barn jacket, a scarf, a pair of gloves, hat, two iPods, a package of Fortuna's Vermont Maple Beef Jerky, a Mo's Dark Bacon Bar, a Jack Spade gadget pouch, a Jack Spade zippered portfolio, my 2010 At-A-Glance Administrator, a camera, a digital voice recorder, two spiral-ring notebooks, a tangle of cords and chargers and two cans of Diet Coke, it managed to do so in a way that allowed the bundle -- cinched tight by threading the apron strings through the metal grommets and tying them off -- to store neatly under the seat in front of me. (And thanks to its pre-scuffed and worn look, any errant kicks didn't matter.)
It reminded me of Santa's magic bag -- somehow big enough to fit all the toys for every good little boy and girl around the world but at the same time small enough to cram into the back of a sleigh.
Although Billy Reid's own website is sold out of the $150 bag, Bloomingdale's e-commerce site currently lists it as in stock.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photo: The Levi's Workwear by Billy Reid Apron Bag ($150) was inspired by an old blacksmith's apron in the Levi's archives and recovered in New Mexico. Credit: Levi Strauss & Co.