One of the things I enjoy most about the leather industry is that you always seem to find someone doing something really well that you haven’t found out about just yet. Such is the case with a husband and wife team from Transylvania, Romania.
About 74Street Bags
Mircea & Daciana Bule are the powerhouse couple behind 74Street Bags. Mircea is a licensed fashion designer and he has been handcrafting with leather for more than 20 years. In my conversations with Daciana, she enjoyed referring to him as “the brains of design and handwork for 74Street”. Daciana, a manager by profession, is also a fashion design student, and “the brains of the business along with being Mircea’s apprentice in learning more and more everyday about the vast skills needed for handcrafting leather”. Together from their studio in Romania this duo designs and creates some unique bags – which seem to be very popular through their Etsy storefront, which shows a 5 star rating and healthy sales. For our initial review for 74Street Bags, we received their Lucky Double 15” Vertical Messenger Bag.
This particular bag features full grain Crazy Horse leather, which they source from a tannery in Italy, in a color they refer to as Dakar Café – a nice dark brown. Crazy Horse leather (also referred to as cowboy or saddleback leather at times) is a type of pull up leather. It is heavily infused with oils under pressure at high heat during the tanning process. This gives the leather a very rugged finish that is well suited to moist or dry environments. It will remain soft and pliable forever and offers high durability. 74Street Bags does not exclude using leather that has natural markings from the cow’s life such as stretch marks, scars, and brands.
The thread is heavy gauge and the sewing is done by hand with a 19th century Singer manual machine – one that is manipulated by hand, not foot.
When asked about their construction process, Daciana sent me the following info:
“We work with patterns created by us. My husband Mircea is a very good specialist in patterns. He draws the bag first and then turns it into a pattern. In the next step we take the pattern and transfer it onto the leather and cut the pieces with our hand cutter. We enjoy this “old school technique” because we also use old tools. We apply all the metal hardware and after that we glue the smaller pieces where necessary with special leather glue. Then we stitch the bag.”
There is a lot of leather in this bag, yet it’s not too heavy or bulky. The overall dimensions are 38cm x 30cm x 10cm (15 x 11.8 x 3.9 inches). It will easily fit a 15” MacBook Pro, charger cords, and more in either of the two main pockets. The center divider has two large pockets sewn on it that are capable of holding Field Notes, a smartphone, or any other similarly sized items. The extra pocket on the front is large enough to house an iPad or a class sized Moleskine and other accessories. Finally, there are a couple of pen/pencil loops and a small pocket on the very front that is large enough for a small cell phone, your iPod, or a healthy stack of business cards. The antique brass hardware all functions well and feels sturdy.
The strap is easily adjustable allowing you to carry the bag either on your shoulder or cross body. The handle is nicely padded and large. The bag lays nicely on your hip in shoulder or cross-body carry mode. Vertical messenger bags are a nice alternative to traditional messengers. Having a thinner profile can be useful in certain situations (crowded commuter trains come to mind).
Upon arrival the Lucky Double Messenger Bag had a strong chemical smell to it. In spite of the smell, the bag’s visual appearance is very appealing. I actually just set it next to my desk with the main flap open and let it air out for a little more than a week. It’s now fine and there is no residual chemical odor. I’m not sure what caused the odor – the tanning process, the glue used in construction, or a combination of both.
The Dakar Café leather is very attractive and the symmetrical lighter colored stitching creates a nice contrast. The symmetry of the stitching is intentionally broken up in just a few spots…according to Daciana this is a stylistic signature that is incorporated into every one of their bags. It is very subtle and only occurs on the shoulder strap of this particular bag.
In carrying the bag, it does get noticed quite often. People ask and comment on it frequently. Its pleasant color and design have traditional leanings, but also indicate that it’s a custom designed piece, which I think is why it stands out to most people.
The 74Street Bags Lucky Double 15” Vertical Messenger Bag is definitely a standout since it’s uniquely designed, constructed of quality materials, and hand made. At $485 it’s definitely an investment…but, you definitely get your money’s worth since the quality of this bag will allow it to serve you well, in a stylish fashion, for decades to come. 74Street Bags has a multitude of bag designs, cases, and accessories – be sure to visit and peruse their collection.