|Eastern Canvas Products|
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
|Headquarters||Bornem, Belgium and Stabio, Switzerland|
|Products||Bags, luggage, accessories, apparel|
Eastpak is an American worldwide lifestyle brand founded in Boston, USA, specializing in the design, development, manufacturing and worldwide marketing and distribution of a range of products including bags, backpacks, travel gear and accessories. The company began as Eastern Canvas Products USA, Inc. in 1952, producing bags and packs for the US military before focusing on the consumer market under the brand name Eastpak as of 1976. It is part of the VF Corporation brand portfolio.
Eastpak was founded in 1952 by Monte Goldman as Eastern Canvas Products USA Inc.. Early activities included the manufacture of a line of duffel bags, backpacks and safety equipment for the US Army. The company direction changed dramatically, however, when Monte’s son Mark Goldman joined the company in 1976. He transformed the company’s retail product line into a fully-fledged consumer brand and launched the first line-up of bags and packs at a sportswear trade fair in Chicago in 1977. Norman Jacobs joined the company in 1980 and together with partner, Mark Goldman, claimed a market-leading share of the US college market on the East Coast throughout most of the 1980s and early 1990s.
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In 1985 Eastpak introduced bright colors and prints to the bags collections, cementing the brand’s evolution from an outdoor brand to an urban lifestyle brand. The company retained its image and reputation for quality and durability by also becoming the first bags brand to offer a lifetime warranty on its products (for legal reasons, the warranty is limited to 30 years). The evolution towards a bolder, more original style was also matched in the mid-1980s by increasingly provocative advertising campaigns featuring, e.g. the controversial comic-book character Andy Capp. Eastpak entered the luggage market in 1999 with the first wheeled trolley produced for the consumer market. The brand was acquired by VF Corporation in 2000, the clothing and apparel giant, where it joined other brands such as JanSport, The North Face, Kipling, Lee and Wrangler.
Eastpak’s first export markets were in Asia, with early successes in Japan, Korea, Singapore and the Philippines.
Eastpak was first introduced onto the European market in 1986 by the Frenchman Kostia Belkin. He met with Mark Goldman and Norman Jacobs in Boston who convinced him to start distributing Eastpak products in Europe. The brand succeeded in gaining a foothold in Paris almost instantly with the first products selling out within days of the launch. Other countries soon followed and collaborations with brands such as Airwalk saw Eastpak tap other corners of the market as well.
Eastpak’s product portfolio includes a wide range of shoulder bags, backpacks, duffel bags, travel gear and accessories. Available in a large range of styles, colors, prints, and fabrics, the collections are seasonal and are designed for maximum coordination.
Eastpak was also the first company to produce wheeled luggage for the consumer market.
Since then, the company has significantly expanded its range of travel gear ranging from uncomplicated, single-volume holdalls to two and even four-wheeled trolleys with single or dual compartments, in a range of sizes from strict carry-on to standard carry-on and larger. Most styles integrate other design features such as adjustable shoulder straps, organizer pouches, laptop and multimedia sleeves, expansion zips and straps, “add-a-bag” loops and security lock rings.
Eastpak engaged in its first designer collaboration in 2003 with the Dutch tattoo artist Hendrikus (“Hanky Panky”) Johannes Everhardus Schiffmacher. The first fashion collaboration followed a year later in 2004 with the Belgian fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck. Since then, Eastpak has produced collections in collaboration with renowned designers including Kris Van Assche, Christopher Shannon, Raf Simons and many others.