J.Panther bags: a rugged military luggage range from New York
During the whirlwind that was New York Fashion Week, I took time out to meet Johnny Diamandis, lead designer and owner/founder of J.Panther bags, a range of luggage I’d seen photos of and was keen to get my hands on. I wasn’t disappointed. Regular readers will know that for me, one of the things New York is synonymous with is great luggage. And I’m pleased to say that in the flesh, J.Panther bags do not disappoint. My first reaction was ‘it looks like great military gear’, which Johnny was glad to hear, explaining that weathered, and well worn militaria is one of his key influences for the collection.
The range consists of 4 products: The Aviator a small uber-practical case with many internal compartments, that looks like it should hold something essential and military but would equally find a place for all your stuff; the Life Tote, which could more accurately be described as a tote to die for; the multifunctional Ruc Tote, combining the best of rucksack and tote bag and a Weekender bag with ample space for that jaunt to Palm Springs (or to Clacton if you must).
Affable Brit Johnny, whose mild manner belies a design heritage that involves working under Christopher Bailey at Burberry and as global design director for Evisu in Japan/Hong Kong, is now enviably settled in New York, and I think his brand has the potential to become a New York classic.
Like the best stuff designed for men if not men themselves, the range is designed to get handsomer with age. I was particularly enamored of the olive Life and Ruc Totes, and Johnny was thoughtful enough to have a couple of battered beauties to hand, to show just how good a little rough and tumble is for these rugged bags. I had reservations about non-adjustable straps of the Ruc Tote but keen cyclist Johnny said the ultimate test for these bags was being able to sling them on your back and pedal off into the sunset, and that he’d only ever come across one (diminutive) person for whom the straps weren’t a perfect fit.
The whole range offers fantastic attention to detail. Johnny oversees manufacture himself, using the best of American construction and even the multi-page circular paper labels explaining their function add to the sense of a product with purpose.
These bags are a really great choice if you’re looking for a rugged backpack or tote that will take on character and patina over time. I urge you to investigate further; even if intrepid adventure isn’t your forte your bag can at least look the part.