REIMAGINING CRAFT: 02
The S.C. Holdall
The Brief: To create a piece of luggage that keeps a suit creaseless and has the storage capability of a duffle bag. Solution: The S.C. Holdall.
The absence of an effective suit carrying holdall was originally put to us by Simon Crompton of Permanent Style, and as advocates of minimalism, the challenge of designing a single product that does the job of two became our immediate focus, then a bit of an obsession and eventually, the Bennett Winch S.C Holdall.
The first incarnation was an old Liberty’s garment bag wrapped around one of our commuter holdalls, and honestly, very little changed! It was an intuitive pre-sketchbook response that a garment wrapped around a large diameter would be less likely to crease, and that the circumference of a holdall was very close to the length of a suit.
Having thought we’d solved it in a moment of sweet clarity, we then spent a year labouring over the detailed design trying to get it to work. The biggest challenge was balancing the tolerances between outer suit bag and inner holdall. The packed volume of both can vary dramatically depending on their contents but still need to fit together. It took many a round of testing to get the two to balance, but balance they eventually did.
In addition to the fit tolerances, the holdall needed to be placed perfectly centrally on the suit bag in order for the two fix points to align accurately either side of the holdall’s central zip. The solution to this was to use magnetic poppers. A particularly accurate individual can place the bag directly on to these and they’ll self-locate in an indescribable moment of product pleasure, something that became quite the source of gambling in the BW studio.
Another key design consideration was weight. Although we use largely the same suite of materials as our other products, the assembled unit has more layers than a standard holdall, so we had to be selective about which were used, and where.
The outer surface of the suit bag is our waterproof 24oz bonded canvas, meaning even the finest three-piece can be safely put down in the middle of Soho. The inner is a soft 12oz cotton which reduces friction between the surface of the suit and the holdall. The holdall is made from a lightweight 18oz water resistant twill, stripped in military fashion of all un-necessary weight. Beyond the cottons, the other key materials are the London-welded solid brass hardware and military grade cotton webbing.
In addition to bonded canvas we recently introduced two full grain leather versions. Hand selected from our Tuscan tanneries; each suit carrier uses an entire seamless hide. Because of the increased weight of the leather we hand split each from a thickness of 3.2mm down to 1.6mm. This keeps the assembled holdall as light as bonded canvas without losing any of the natural character of the skin.
Aesthetically we made no attempt to hide the S.C. Holdall’s DNA, essentially still that of a Liberty’s garment bag wrapped around a commuter holdall, but now a lot more considered! It’s this sense of affordance that makes it so intuitive to use – it looks exactly how it works.
Gone are the days of taming a cheap suit bag in high winds held only by an exposed hanger while your Rimowa goes for a wander down the airport ramp. The suit carrier holdall project has been a long time in the making but one that we believe has resulted in a genuinely useful solution, and one endorsed by each member of the Bennett Winch team whenever required to look like a well-dressed grown-up.