Hudson Sutler, Quality Purveyors of Sensible Merchandise
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Grant Hewit of Hudson Sutler
I spend a lot of time thinking about people and things that "get it." It's a hard concept to explain, but you can feel it when someone is picking up what you're putting down. Like that girl that sends you a package of beef jerky and beer from Thanks, Bro
- she gets it. The person who sends a handwritten thank you note instead of an email. Yeah, they get it too.
Well, my buddy Grant Hewit gets it too.
I've known Grant since high school and I'm proud to say we went to Delbarton School together. Grant was always a solid dude in many ways and it's no surprise that he's found something special in the new company he's founded, Hudson Sutler
Hudson Sutler specializes in high quality, American-made duffel bags in multiple sizes. All bags feature nickel hardware, rustproof resin zippers, plaid interiors and interior zippers.
I really dig the red white and blue combination here
I really can't overemphasize enough how just "perfect" these bags are. They're the right size, the right colors, the right amount of details. They're instant classics.
Grant and I met up last Friday at the Australian to catch up on old times and talk about his new venture. I took some photos of the gear in action and also posed some questions to Grant. We also made friends with Erin at the Australian and she was gracious enough to model some of the gear too. Thanks Erin!
In front of the bar or behind it - you look cool with a Hudson Sutler
Dan: Tell me about the inspiration behind Hudson Sutler.
Grant: Hudson Sutler was really born from an appreciation of well made, timeless American classic "staples". Think Brooks Brothers trailblazing the button down collar, Levi brothers putting denim jeans on the map, (I'd love to be able to speak to Budweiser here, but for some reason I just can't get over the InBev buyout....and yes I'm aware Claudio del Vecchio is as American as Snooki's tan is real) Even flip-flops are an American staple, I'm not sure who invented them, but I'm pretty certain Rainbows perfected them. Unfortunately many of these items are no longer actually made here, but to me they're still very much "American Inspired." So with Hudson Sutler, we wanted to take a bit of a counter approach, take an item that's derived from elsewhere (Duffel bags are named for a town in Belgium funny enough) that have had some American-ization and take it a step further by producing them here in the US of A. Our very early design concepts had the bags more similar both in look, and feel, as authentic US Military issue duffel bags, which probably helps explain our name a bit as well. In our eyes, the heavy cotton canvas, can take a beating and still look very classic commuter and weekender bag is one of the American "staples" that's really lost out in the wake of all these rolling bags and hard shell, 76 compartment rolling offices you can find in a SkyMall catalog. We really wanted to go back to the archives, when things were made with pride and care and frankly, it showed. We wanted to bring back that staple the every guy should have. A bag that fits what you need (not everything you own), and looks good doing it.
Grant and a Hudson Sutler bag: two great things made in America
Dan: Awesome. One of the details I really love is the plaid interior/lining; it brings the bag a step up. Where did that idea come from?
Grant: It's funny, early on in our design process it wasn't something we discussed really. Our aim was to make a very classic looking bag, but still make it distinctive. We toyed around with some other ideas, like waxed cotton interiors and eventually that conversation evolved into cotton shirting material. In some of our original designs we had them as contrast color, solid liners and it just didn't look as we wanted, so we made a prototype with an American flag style fabric liner. (I actually carry that prototype around pretty much daily.) At that point we had a number of fabric swatches that we really thought would work well paired with certain bag exterior/handle combos. If you could have seen my apartment at that time you would have thought I was a hoarder who had a thing for blackwatch plaid and gingham fabrics. I guess the plaid liners to us were about taking a classic staple and putting our touch of personality on it.
Here's a closeup shot of the plaid interior as well as the interior pocket
Dan: Wow - waxed cotton is interesting and I never thought about going that route. Perhaps something to think about for the exterior at some point... Anyway - before we hit our lightning round - why go with the oversized zippers... what's the story behind that?
Grant: Certainly for the exterior, the only issue being that the treatment of waxed cotton does rub off on other fabrics in certain situations...so we were concerned about using waxed cotton for the exterior of a bag that's intended for everyday use. Ahhh, I forgot to mention the resin zippers. We went with the thick resin zipper for three reasons. First and foremost, they're not brass or metal of any kind, and thus won't rust when you (expectantly) bring these bags everywhere you go. I've had bags in the past that did it all, and in the end succumbed to that nasty greenish staining that metal zippers cause when they get wet too many times. With using resin, we removed that problem and we expect these bags to last as long as you need them too without finding their way out of your daily use just because the zipper got rusty. Secondly, the thick style zipper is far more durable than its thinner counterpart whose teeth are more likely to break and/or get jammed. With the thick zipper those frustrating "stuck zipper" moments become something of the past, and good riddance. Lastly, but most certainly not least, the thick resin zippers to us just have a much better feel and look to them. We chose contrast colors to give the bag some more character and when you look closely, all the stitching on the bag is with contrast stitching. So while the choice is very practical, there is an element of just flat vanity included. It just looks good....which is pretty much how I feel about most classic American things.
White zippers are cool
Dan: Alright awesome. So let's move into something I call the lightning round I'm gonna toss you a question or a scenario and you hit me up with an answer and a quick explanation.
Imagine you live in a world where you must choose either to have croakies or mid calf socks - but NOT both. Which one do you choose?
Grant: Gotta go mid calf socks. I love croakies and all, but nothing is more amazing than old videos of guys in the 70s working out in short shorts, handle bar mustaches and mid calf socks with the 2 stripes up top. Nothing.
Dan: Can't argue with that, that would be my pick too. Alright, I know that you have one of the greatest 1980's movies, Rad, on DVD, even though technically it is only available as VHS. What's it like having like one of the two copies of Rad on DVD?
Grant: As a gift I can honestly say I've bragged more about getting Rad on DVD than I have anything in my life. Knowing Rad in general is pretty solid 80s street cred, but knowing its not on DVD makes you practically part of Cru's Crew.
Dan: If Hudson Sutler had a theme song, what would it be? Must be from the 70s or 80s.
Grant: Lay your Hands on me by Bon Jovi. Not sure it reflects our brand, but its just plain awesome. (Also in the running: Badlands by Bruce Springsteen)
Dan: It's been a dinger of a night out and you want to get something to eat at 3am. You have the option of IHop, Denny's, Friendly's or White Castle. (Imagine these restaurants all operate in NYC)
Grant: Being that I can't remember the last time I went to IHOP, Denny's or White Castle, I guess Friendly's takes this out of default. I'd prefer to just answer Cluck U Chicken though.
Dan: Ahhhh can't believe I left Cluck-U off the list! Good catch Grant. OK, lastly who's your pick for 2012 college lacrosse (Princeton excluded)
Grant: If the Tigers are out (which clearly is my pick) I'd gotta give a nod to my guy Bill Tierney at Denver. (Although part of me would like to see the boys at Maryland walk with some hardware. Its been a long time...)
Dan: That's it from my end - make sure you check out Hudson Sutler!
Ladies look great with a Hudson Sutler bag too
I thought of writing about the different types (archetypes?) of literary tote bags out there on the interwebs but found I was already beaten to the punch by the likes of flavorpill and vol 1 brooklyn
Vol 1 even did the whole, 'what this bag says about you' in the vein of Lauren Leto's cyno-reductionist Judging a Book By Its Lover
mini-festo. (Note: read my pal Zack's profile of Lauren
From Vol 1 Brooklyn:
The Paris Review tote: You really want to impress somebody by letting them know you read The Paris Review. (Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.)
The N+1 tote: You probably mention in conversation that when you receive a new issue of N+1, you skip straight to the Marco Roth piece.
Shit. I was going to namedrop n+1! (though I go straight to the 'Intellectual Situation,' personally). If Vol 1 scrubbed that corner of the literary universe, what else is out there for me to talk about? How can I get a seat at the literary tote bag table?
I find my ways.
Check it - the ingenious crafters over at Etsy always come through in the clutch.
Need to profess you love of Pride & Prejudice (& Flowers?)
Mr. Darcy to Lizzy Bennet! Love it! From Brookish's Etsy page.
Maybe you find that too sentimental and want to push your luv of modernism on the L train?
Well, 250Union's Etsy page
has got you covered if you've got a jones for Joyce.
But what if Ulysses is a tad too heavy for you cause you're really just more into visceral experiences like getting drunk and writing over-hyped (whoooops) poems about chicks on your 'typer'?
Then buy this Bukowski tote at polymer's Etsy page
Remember how Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory (1997) compulsively bought copies of Catcher in the Rye whenever he saw a copy for sale?
He'd probably OCD over the above bag, too. From imissyoualready
OK. So everything I mentioned is very author-specific. What if you just want to say you like books, but also enjoy a particular song from Sir-Mix-A-Lot's 1992 album, Mack Daddy?
Feel free to pack away War and Peace or William Vollmann's Imperial or something with this tote from PamelaFugateDesigns
. Maybe just carry your groceries in it. Who cares? The bag is awesome.