December 10, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Wanderskye | Bags by Rubbertree

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

A couple of weeks ago, I was (finally!) able to experience autumn in Japan. Since my return, I was only able to upload a few VSCO Cam photos to my Flickr accout, but then work demanded that I spend some quality time with it now that I'm back home. Hopefully I am able to blog (or at least photoblog) about my trip before the year ends.

2015-11-27 09.55.38 1
One of my favorite photos from my "mobile phone" category.
Hooray for high resolution cellphone cameras and filter apps!

ANYWAY. What was I supposed to talk about? Oh, yes. My travel bags.

Planning for this trip happened way back in the middle of this year, when I've been canvassing for sturdy bags and travel accessories to use; stuff that will withstand the stress during flights and train transfers from city to city. My first bag-related purchase started with Exonomad, which I bought for its rugged properties, but mainly because I wanted to showcase Filipino indigenous fabric as I travel (picture below, bottom left).


My next purchase (picture above, center)  after that was influenced by the opening scene of That Thing Called Tadhana, when Angelica Panganiban's character was perusing the contents of her luggage for things to dispose because her baggage was overweight. Her luggage had this cover, and I was instantly drawn to its design and color. Thanks to social media, I was able to trace the brand of the luggage cover used. Guess what? It's locally made!

Wanderskye

Wanderskye™ Travel Covers Designed by Filipino Artists

(Online Shop: http://www.wanderskye.com/)

A lot of people in the Philippines are buying luggage covers nowadays, but for reasons far different from what it originally intended to be. (For me) Luggage covers are a good way of quickly identifying one's luggage on the airport conveyor belt. Instead of the usual black, brown, red, etc., a luggage owner can pick a design suited to his personality an incorporate this to his luggage.


Nowadays, luggage covers also provide an extra layer of security against those who wish to do harm on one's personal belongings. Instead of having the exterior pockets exposed, a luggage owner can stylishly secure any nook or cranny without the need to cling wrap the entirety of his luggage.

I bought my luggage cover online, but there are a lot of
participating stores in the metro that also sell this product.


I found the material of the luggage cover to be extremely stretchable, akin to the fabric used in swimsuits. I remember my luggage being bloated because of all the coats I had to pack for the trip, so much so that I had to open the "extender" section of the luggage so that I can close the zipper comfortably. Even if I bought the size small of Wanderskye's luggage cover, I was able to put it on quite easily.

Wanderskye luggage covers cling extremely well to the luggage,
as they hardly budged from the luggage during the flight.

Needless to say, all of our luggage covers survived the trip. I can't wait to use it again, on our future trips.

Bags by Rubbertree

Purposeful leather pieces, hand-cut and hand-stitched.

(Online Shop: http://bagsbyrubbertree.com/)

This one I've been wanting to purchase for a long time, ever since I got into buying locally-made goods. I first saw Bags by Rubbertree from an Instagram post of Alunsina Handbound Books; they (Alunsina) are actually the reason why I got interested in leather in the first place. Alas, price of the bags was so expensive that I had to purchase other leather bags while I wait for the right time to invest in full-grain leather goodness.

Since then, I started following Bags by Rubbertree's Instagram account to update myself with any store announcements. Theirs is an online shop, but every now and then they do setup pop-up stores within Metro Manila, usually up north. They also partnered with Common Room, where they mostly sell their smaller items such as wallets, coin purses, and pouches.


My decision to purchase a bag from Bags by Rubbertree came when I was planning for my trip to Japan. I thought to myself, wouldn't it be nice if the bag I'll be using matches the color of the leaves to bring out an even more autumn-y vibe? And that was it. I'm such a girl, aren't I?

Disclaimer: The prices below are from the quotation given to me during my time of purchase. The current price may have already lowered or risen since then.

I chose to buy the Mini Weekender, and requested a few tweaks from the base design (12,000 PhP + 45 PhP delivery within Metro Manila) to make it more personal:

  • Instead of a solid color, I requested it to be two-tone wherein the straps have a different color from the body (no extra charge to personalize the colorway).
  • I requested an extra shoulder strap be made, for the times when I want it slung across my body (additional 1,500 PhP).
  • I also requested that an inner pocket be added, as an extra compartment (additional 500 PhP).

Construction of the bag took about a month since completing the payment (via bank deposit), which was actually a week longer than their average construction time; this was probably due to the upcoming holiday/ bazaar season. I remember being worried that the delivery of the bag would not make it in time for my flight, but it did!

En route to Kobe.

In front of Osaka Castle.


Unfortunately, I was only able to take a couple of #ootd photos in Japan with the bag, because of our jam-packed itinerary. Good thing that Bags by Rubbertree was able to take a picture of the bag before shipping it to me.



So, how did I find my bag? I've got some pro's and con's to share, to help you decide (should you want a bag of your own):

Pro's:

  • Craftsmanship. The bag is beyond handsome. The color, the texture, heck even the smell is divine. Each piece is handcrafted, and counted (there was a number behind the bag's logo), so you know that you are owning not only a bag, but a piece of art.
  • Durability. Even before the trip, I was using the bag as my everyday office bag. Mind you, I am not a light packer. I carry with me two journals, tissue, wet wipes, fountain pens, a thick wallet, commuter cards, kikay stuff--all of there would have to weight down a bag one way or another. And during my trip to Japan, I used my bag as a makeshift camera bag--carrying a mid-range lens, camera body, external flash, and various chargers. My shoulder almost gave away, but the bag was a trooper.
  • Low Maintenance: For its price, I find the bag extremely low maintenance. I'm sure that some spills will stain the bag, and that eventually the unlined interior may scrape away, but I believe that this will only add more personality to your bag--battle scars with a story to tell. Just make sure to show the bag some love and not use it haphazardly.
  • Roomy. The boxy design of the Mini Weekender can hold lots of stuff; I was even able to put my DSLR + additional stuff inside! And since this is a roll-top bag, you can adjust the capacity of the bag depending on the height and volume of the stuff you put in it. 

Con's:

  • Weight. I'm not sure if it is because of the type of leather that was used, but I was able to feel some weight even when the bag was empty. I recall experiencing this with my sister's Kate Spade handbag, so I'm not sure if quality leather is really on the heavy side.
  • Risk of Stretch. Bags by Rubbertree does not line the insides of their bags, because they want to showcase the quality of the leather. Aesthetically, it looks good, but if you have a tendency to overpack your bags, there is a risk that the bag will stretch over time. So as a precautionary measure, it would be best to buy (or make) a bag bottom, to give your bag additional support.
  • Difficulty to Carry Around. In retrospect, I should have requested an adjustment on the shoulder strap length. Because of the weight of the actual bag itself, carrying it around for long periods of time takes a toll on your shoulders. In addition, I find the default length of the shoulder straps to be too short for comfortable handling, especially if there are a lot of stuff inside the bag.
  • Main Compartment Not Too Accessible. This being a roll-top bag, accessing stuff in the main compartment is quite challenging when you're on-the-go. You would have to unsnap and unroll the bag every time you need to get your wallet or commuter cards, and then roll and snap the bag again for it to close securely.
All things said, I am quite happy with my purchase, especially since they passed my backpacking stress test with flying colors! For those interested, feel free to browse the links provided in this entry. And for those who already purchased their own Wanderskye and/or Bags by Rubbertree item, please post pictures in your reply. I'm curious as to which items have captured your fancy.

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