It was during a job search in 2008 that Vincent Lai began making his first bag prototypes.
"I made some samples just to get it out of my head," explains the Brooklyn native."If I didn't get them out just to see if they worked, I'd keeping thinking and obsessing over them."
Orders began trickling in as the images were passed around the Internet. "I thought, 'Hmm...maybe, I can do this for a living?'” Suffice to say, it wasn't long before Lai's Recession-era job search had concluded with the launch of his own collection, Skinny Vinny.
"I always find myself thinking about new bags, new shapes and new ways of carrying things," explains Lai, who studied industrial design at Carnegie Mellon before moving back to Brooklyn. "I can be out with friends and I find myself drifting off thinking about it...how the bag falls or hugs the body, or what problems they seem to have with their bags is very helpful to my process."
As such, Lai prioritizes function as well as design, striving to bring a sense of "urban sophistication" as well as utility to every collection (which is entirely handmade in his Brooklyn studio).The bags range in price from $58-$250.
His practical Cattley backpack, for example, is executed in a tough linen material finished with a sporty stripe motif. Hidden pockets on either side make the bag particularly functional for schlepping around the city.
For fall, Lai plans to make his luggage pieces even more durable. "I have a few tech bags in the works," he explains. "They are going to be a bit more heavy-duty and weather-proof. I'm excited to work with some tech fibers and new materials."
From $50 to $250 at www.skinny-vinny.com.