The scourge of London’s tube travelers, the humble Eastpak backpack wielded – inadvertently – in the hands of a European exchange student can be a formidable weapon. It’s also features the purest of designs and has an evolving iconic status.
Eastpak was founded in 1952 by Monte Goldman as Eastern Canvas Products USA, Inc. It specialised in producing bags for the US military. Monte’s son Mark joined the business in 1976 and overhauled the company’s offer creating a consumer brand that launch iconic “teardrop shaped” backpack in 1976.
Being joined by Norman Jacobs in 1980, Mark is credited with driving the business to to claiming dominance in the East Coast college market in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. By 1985 the Eastpak range became characterised by bold colours and tribal prints.
During 1986 Eastpak was first introduced onto the European market by Kostia Belkin from France. He had been persuaded by Goldman and Jacobs to launch Eastpak in Europe. Launched in Paris, the brand’s European success was almost instant with the first products selling out within days.
Eastpak has for the last few years worked with some of the biggest names in fashion including Jean Paul Gauthier and Manolo Blank who have been asked to transforming special-edition “blank” backpacks into unique works of art in support of the Designers Against AIDS charity.
In its over forty year history Eastpak has produced the classic backpack shape in more than 2000 different colors, prints and fabrics.
Eastpak was purchased by VF Corporation in 2000, the clothing and apparel giant, joining other brands including The North Face, Lee and Wrangler.
Image from Eastpak