Adam Marelli x Slow Tools
Camera Bag Collaboration
New York City/Osaka
One Year of Testing
In the summer of 2013, I met Ichiro Nitta at the Capsule Trade show here in New York City. He represents a boutique bag manufacturer out of Osaka Japan, named Slow Tools. In their collection, a small canvas shoulder bag caught my eye. The bag was unstructured, beautifully made, and almost perfect for a Leica travel kit. But Slow Tools was only showing their goods, they were not selling anything. I went home empty handed, but curious to visit them in Japan and see how their bags would work as an alternative to all the other camera bags on the market.
Four months later, I arrived at Hotel Anteroom, in Kyoto. Masako, said, “Mr. Marelli, we have a package you.” Ichiro sent a small shoulder bag which I planned to test for one year. Being a photographer and not a bag company, I can entertain long testing periods without the pressures of bottom lines and quick turnarounds.
Camera bags should be cool. They should be an exciting companion to a camera, something we want to take around on a daily basis. My biggest disappointment with many of the products I encounter is that they feel rushed, designed for everyone, and lacking the small touches that make a piece feel unique. With no timetable, I wanted to use the bag for one year to discover its DNA and understand what I would change if I could design it myself.
Over the course of 2014, I traveled almost 100,000 miles and the Slow Tools bag came everywhere with me. It was dressed up for dinners, poked and prodded at Customs, and became my daily bag at home in New York City. We were inseparable. But like a much loved teddy bear, the canvas edging and back panel started to show signs of wear, which is why this year, I set up a trip to Osaka to fix the trouble spots, make some changes, and create a bag that was unique in style and construction. If the bag could be adapted to meet the needs of photographers like me, why couldn’t it work for someone like you?
Design meeting in Osaka
Slow Tools and I sat down with swatches of canvas, leather, a full kit of Leica gear, pens, and notebooks to create a camera bag for photographers who hate camera bags. The prototypes just arrived in New York this week. You can expect to see them up on the site next week (pre-orders will be available.)
What did I want to change?
1. Silhouette. The problem with most camera bags is that they look like camera bags. They share more in common with the “ubiquitous black rolly bag” than anything you would want to claim as your own. I’m a wool, canvas, & leather sort of guy who appreciates a fabric that breaks in over time, reflects a personal style, and would never be mistaken as something you could buy in bulk.
2. Padding…this is a point where I differ from almost the entire photography world, but I don’t like padding. Most of the time my bag is empty because the camera is in my hand. The idea was to create a durable, light bag, that would not feel like dead weight after a day of shooting. When I do put the camera in the bag, it’s only in transit or when I sit at a restaurant. I try not to bang it against things because if I had to choose weight over padding, I would choose light weight any day.
3. Materials. There is a growing trend to make things that don’t patina. It must be the influence of plastic surgery on our culture. But I like things that age…I’m a vintage watch guy, I prefer my leather to feel like it was inherited and my bags to look like they have been around the world a few times. The golden era of bag design ended after World War 2. The combination of heavy duty canvas and beautifully tanned leather used on steamers, train travel, and for diplomatic persuasion (yes, war) is as good as it gets. Keep the carbon fiber, kevlar, and composites for Formula One cars and trips to the moon.
The bags will be individually numbered and offered exclusively through this website.
Next week there will be images of the new bags, complete with specs and pricing. The estimated delivery of the bags is looking like February or March of 2015.
To order a bag, drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Look forward to sharing them with you!