Quiet like Zurich: A Conversation with LEXDRAY

As any avid traveler will tell you, one of the most important parts of traveling is your bags. For myself, my bag has to hold my belongings obviously while being durable, smart, while maining a certain level of technical prowess. I first heard of LEXDRAY when we posted it a few months ago at which point I was instantly intrigued. They were technical without being too tech and seemed to have all the features that only a traveler could design. After that I reached out to Alex Drayer, the Owner and Designer of LEXDRAY. We discussed how different cities have influenced his design process, the future of bags, and the importance of traveling in street culture.

SLAMXHYPE: It’s interesting to me that you have traveled a lot and you took notice of things that you would want in a bag… Did you always want to start a company like LEXDRAY?

AD: I’ve always wanted to start my own company and launch my own brand, but I didn’t get the vision for Lexdray until 2008

SLAMXHYPE: I think there’s a huge connection between street culture and traveling. Not just finding cool shit to buy but more importantly experiencing other cultures. Do you think this connection has been lost currently?

AD: My brother and I were just having this conversation.  He’s knows about the search for street culture related limited edition toys, kicks, art, gear, etc as well as anyone I know.  His collection rivals most, largely because he knows where to look online.  So I guess the connection has been lost somewhat, mainly due to the rise of e-commerce. You used to have to go to Japan to buy Bape or NYC to find Supreme – now you can just go on their websites and order whatever you want. It’s become more of a virtual search and blogs like yours have become a major influence. The need to travel to find both gear and experiences has lessened. Hopefully Lexdray inspires people to pack their bags and get out there for real.

SLAMXHYPE: That’s interesting you mention that you have Lexdray inspires people to pack their bags. I was thinking that Lexdray would be more for the consumer who already or loves to travel a lot and knows the value of a great bag. Where is your favorite place to visit and why?

AD: I’m certain The Classified Collection will appeal to frequent travelers as you’ve mentioned as well. You’re putting me on the spot asking this question with so many incredible places to visit, but one place that immediately comes to mind is Paris. One reason I love it there is it reminds me of NYC more than anywhere else.  Everyone is immaculately dressed and fashion forward while the city is filled with culture, art, graffiti, incredible architecture, history, phenomenal restaurants, shopping, nightlife and music.  When I touch down in Paris I immediately connect with the energy and vibe of the city.

SLAMXHYPE: It is a lovely place. You’ve said before that every place you’ve visited has influenced the design and features of LEXDRAY products and bags. Could you expand on that?

AD: Each bag in the collection is named after a city I’ve either lived in, visited or spent considerable time.  With each city I visit I am influenced by the people, culture, public transportation, architecture and even the weather. I envision people in Seattle or Kauai making daily use of the rain cover on both the Tokyo and Boulder Packs, or people running through European airports and train stations taking advantage of the backpack straps on the Tahoe Duffel.  I even selected snaps and added a rubberized coating to the hardware on the bags so they would be quiet, like Zurich or Copenhagen.

SLAMXHYPE: I noticed in 2012 there’s some new things like the London Garment bag, which is amazing by the way.. Do you have any new colors or materials planned for 2012 or will you be sticking with black? Just wondering because I think the Boulder Pack would look amazing in different colors ha. What materials would you like to explore in the future?

AD: I just saw a final sample of the London Garment.  It’s a very unique piece.  Like the styles we just launched, we will make 550 of them in the classic all black colorway.  We won’t produce a style in all black again after it’s initial production run, but we have a number of new colors we are considering.  I am leaning towards olive, khaki, navy and charcoal.  My intention is to dye fabrics so the entire bag remains tonal, including the hardware.  We are always looking at new fabrics to incorporate into our bags as well.  I don’t want to give away too much but they will of course be durable, functional, water resistant and lightweight.

SLAMXHYPE: I love bags personally because I think the things we use everyday are a good example of ones tastes and personality. What are some things you make use of everyday and why do you love them?

AD: The things I make use of everyday definitely represent who I am.  Most of my life I have used Apple products and now is no different.  I’d be a far more unorganized person without without my iPhone, iPad and Macbook.  Today I obviously carry my Apple technology and all my gear in a Lexdray bag, but I recently retired an Acronym messenger that I used for quite awhile.  My other daily go-to’s are Levi’s, a Bombardier watch, a pair of Dita sunglasses and a gore-tex Visvim navy and white M-65 rain jacket that I changed the buttons on from white to orange.  In my bag I typically carry a notebook, the latest edition of Monocle, my Canon 7D with a 50mm L Series lens and a pair of Beats in-ear headphones. On my feet I’ve recently been wearing Jordan III’s again and tri-tone Mark McNairy saddles shoes when I need to look a little nicer.

SLAMXHYPE: Since old brands are getting old and Lexdray is part of the new generation of brands how do you plan to create the future? In terms of how you want to run the brand and what the new consumer wants from a bag. Personally, I think a big part of it is not reacting to the consumer wants but predicting what they need.

AD: I have a lot of respect for the “old” brands who established the market for luxury travel gear. Launching a brand today is much different than years ago.  When most of the older brands you are referring to launched their business, their was no internet, no major technology to carry around everyday and figuring out how to get your name out there was far more difficult.  Products developed by older luxury travel brands typically lack a well thought out user experience.  Today there are so many gadgets, computers, power cords and gizmos that everything needs its place just for organization.  Some of the older brands may use exotic materials or have a recognizable monogram, but the overall functionality of a bag can be a challenge for them.  When predicting what a customer wants from a bag in the future, a secure spot for their latest technology is going to be crucial.  Times have obviously changed and so has the sales process.  Ecommerce and web-based sales avenues are more common than ever.  As a young company, I definitely intend to take advantage of these opportunities to reach potential customers, in addition to the plethora of social networking, gifting and luxury sales sites.  Staying ahead of the technology curve is ultimately going to help us make a better product and distribute it more efficiently.

SLAMXHYPE: What is one item (preferably some sort of bag) that you think would assist you in your travels or daily life but hasn’t been made yet. It doesn’t have to be completely new silhouette it can just be a unique feature or a variation. And will Lexdray be making this?

AD: One item I have in mind is something I am working on now.  I always find myself constructing padded areas at the bottom of my backpacks for camera equipment, lenses, etc.  I am in the middle of designing a series of inserts which will be available at some point.  These inserts are designed to house camera equipment in any bag, Lexdray or otherwise.  They will assuredly have some unique features like the rest of our products and they’ll be constructed from lightweight high quality fabrics.  This way even if you are set on your current backpack or messenger, you can still utilize one of our functional inserts.

SLAMXHYPE: That is a good idea and practical as well! Classic menswear is the current trend and seems to be here to stay for a bit. For you personally, do you feel it is more important to see what the future of design holds or to just keep things how they’ve always been?

AD: I’m not really sure.  Part of the reason I decided to make bags and haven’t moved forward on designing garments is because I see them as timeless pieces that don’t really revolve around seasons or trends.  I’m not rushing like the major fashion houses every season to meet delivery dates and create products that must stay on trend.  I happen to have a solid understanding of this side of the design process because I’ve watched my wife deal with it for 7 years with her business.  When designing pieces for The Classified Collection, I didn’t really think about any of these things.  I just created functional products with silhouettes and materials that I thought made sense.

SLAMXHYPE: What’s the most valuable thing traveling has given you?

AD: Three months after my wife and I started dating we decided to take a trip together to Paris.  We’ve never looked back.

Check out the Classified Collection online here. The full collection is also available at UNION Los Angeles and Darkside Initiative SF.

Photos: Alex Drayer