When the Cormack brothers first started Herschel 10 years ago as a small independent bag label based out of Canada, they probably didn’t know that they would go on to be stocked in almost 100 countries spread around the globe. Their classic Little America backpack – the rectangular shaped one with a top flap and two leather straps running down the back – has become somewhat of a staple style for a new generation in the same vein that Eastpak and Jansport packs where back in the day.
We had the opportunity to speak to co-founder Lyndon Cormack when he was in Singapore for the official launch of the new Herschel store at Funan, where he gave us a run through of his 10 favourite collab products – in no particular order – that he has worked on over the last 10 years.
When we started Herschel, it was the first collaboration we ever worked on and it meant a lot to us because as kids we literally grew up with Stussy. We loved their style, both the surf culture nature and also the attention to detail to streetwear, so to work with them early on in 2011 was an amazing opportunity. We worked directly with Eddie Cruz and one of the bags was called the Herschel Tom Tom (taking its name from Stussy’s famous Tom Tom print). They had a batch of jersey Tom Tom fabric from the 80s in their LA warehouse and we made them into liners. Only 50 were made and it was really cool to work with deadstock Stussy fabric. We subsequently went on to work on around 15 different collections with them.
2. New Balance
Always a fan of New Balance sneakers, so it was great that we had a chance to work on a collaboration with them. We took the 420 – which was a shoe that was more successful in Europe but not so much in North America – and put the Herschel liners inside them as well as making a collection of bags. We also did the 710 hiking sneaker, we put paisley lining on them. It was just really fun to get to work on footwear.
We had the opportunity to work with Clarks, doing a new version of the Desert Boot, as well as a take on a new model called the Guide Boot. We used a premium navy blue leather and our signature red/white stripe lining. Being able to work with one of my personal favourite casual footwear brands and putting the Herschel stamp on it was a cool experience.
I met Ronnie Fieg 8 years ago at the Bread & Butter tradeshow in Berlin. Our first collaboration was a denim bag, where we took selvage denim and did some really beautiful details down the front straps, where you had the raw edge of the selvage denim and also Cordura fabric in woodland camo for the base.
We are huge fans of Japanese culture, so working with Tetsu Nishiyama of Wtaps was awesome. In general, the Japanese have great attention to detail, but Tet just brings that to another level.
I had the great pleasure of being able to go through Disney’s archive in Los Angeles. I got a walk through and was even able to put on the white gloves to look at actual sketches that Walt Disney himself created. For the first Disney collection we wanted to celebrate the connection with the US design studio and Tokyo animation studio, so we did one collection each. We used dissected versions of Mickey, and it was pretty cool to be able to work with one of the most famous characters in the world.
For us, Coca-Cola was really important because it is the most recognisable brand in the world. Whether you drink Coke or not the branding is always somewhere in the vicinity no matter where you go. So for us as a younger brand when we first worked with them, being able to have a Coca-Cola logo unified with yours was really cool. For the project itself, we actually took old recycled Coke bottles and made them into fabric, so the bags were 100% made from PET textile, so it has a great sustainability story as well. We also took Coke logos from all around the world and made a mix-match pattern to celebrate the idea of world travelling.
As kids we were super big fans of Casio and they are such an important part of streetwear and street culture with their G-Shock and Baby-G range. We fell in love in the early days with G-Shocks and we tried to get our hands on as many as we possibly could, so most recently we worked with Casio on a military-inspired collection.
We got to work with Brian Donnelly aka Kaws and All Rights Reserved to bring Kaws Holiday to the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. We worked built 100 tents for VIPs, as well as 100 sleeping bags and a heritage backpack. It was pretty awesome to work with the team and Kaws in general, he is certainly one of – if not – the most iconic artists of our time right now.
We did a collection for Nordstrom Pop-In, we got to work with former Opening Ceremony Creative Director, Olivia Kim. She did this crazy fun collection with our team that celebrates world culture and 90s rave culture. The result was lots of interesting takes on Herschel that were not the norm for us, like big sherpa fleece bags etc, it was just really fun to see.
Thanks to Lyndon for the interview and check out the new Herschel store at Funan Mall as well as the new collaboration Basqiat and Hello Kitty collections!