In the tumultuous seas of spurious, pointless and head scratchily strange collaborations, we desperately cling on to the rare examples of worthwhile match ups. The recent creative coming together of Universal Works and Millican is such an example. David Keyte of Universal Works discovered Millican bags after stumbling across the inspirational story of their namesake Millican Dalton. A self styled 'Professor of Adventure', the eccentirc outdoorsman lived a life of simplicity and self sufficiency. It is little wonder that the designer found inspiration in his tale which led Keyte to the brand. "Millican Bags share both his name and his passion for the outdoors and I love what they are doing," Keyte explains as he talks about the collaboration. Since its inception three years, Millican combines a passion for vintage travel bags, the outdoor life and all things functional with a shared passion for a more sustainable life. Both Universal Works and Millican share a passion for honest tradition whilst producing modern, functional and practical goods that will last. Ultimately, the considered range does what any good collaboration should, explore and expand on these similarities, individual strengths and areas of expertise of both brands to create truly covetable products.
The resulting collection complements each brand's regular offering and inspired by classic carry solutions. Universal Works have reinterpreted Millican's acclaimed Courier Bag and Daypack and added two new silhouettes, a shopper and a holdhall, whilst staying true to their signature attention to detail in order to crate the perfect accessories for the modern adventurer. Just before the fruits of the collaboration land in stores and online, we caught up with David Keyte before taking a closer look at the functional beauties...
SS: How did this collaboration between the two of you arise, what was the catalyst and how did it evolve in to the collection we see today?
David Keyte: I was very interested in the story of Millican Dalton, the English eccentric outdoors man, and through that research I saw the Millican bags. I loved the fact they had based their ideas on such an interesting guy, I was in the market for a new bag myself and bought one of their small courier bags. I used the bag daily for a while and loved it. I recommended the bags to friends of mine and through that we ended up helping Millican finding some sales in Europe, all this before we had ever met. I then asked Jorritt if he would be interested to make some bags directly with us. We loved what they did and thought it would be a great project to work on together.
SS: Both of you share a passion for honest tradition, while producing modern, functional and practical goods that will last and become long time favourites.How would you describe one another and what you both bring to one another?
David Keyte: I think we both come fro a place of understanding and loving traditional English products, but wanting to not make "old fashioned" products. Understanding heritage is important but I don't want to be defined by it. We both want to produce bags that are more about style, form and function rather than short term fashion and I think this shows through with the collaboration.
SS: David, how did Millican Dalton inspire you?
David Keyte: I loved the way he chose his own destiny. He left many of the comforts of a normal home life to experience outdoor living in the beautiful and dramatic English lakes, he made his own clothes, he chose action over a sedentary life style and he was a proper English eccentric. And had a good beard!
SS: The collection sees Universal Works reinterpret two Millican favourites and add two new silhouettes.
David Keyte: Yes we love the Millican range but wanted to add a couple of more urban bags. The first is the tote bag, which is a favourite amongst men in Japan and Europe, and one of my personal favorites, and the second is a simple weekend bag - for me I will always use a good "nighter" bag
SS: Craft and local manufacture are obviously very important to you both and are dear to us too at Style Salvage. Can you talk us through some of the processes involved in creating the fruits of this collaboration
David Keyte: Small scale production and highly skilled makers are very important to us. At UW we try to make much of our production locally but that's not always possible as it simply does not exist for some types of product. What is really important to us is ethical production, quality make and a sustainable approach to manufacturing.
With this particular collaboration we worked with Millcan's existing fabric and manufacturing and used many of the great features they do so well. Having used their bags myself, it was easy to know what worked well and what I wanted to add.
SS: Finally, what's next for you?
David Keyte: Continued collaborations and hopefully new fabrics and colours, but we want to have some longevity with the bags, so not too many new things - just enough to keep us busy!
However modern the interpretation of 'adventurer', I don't I could be call one - the only unchartered territories I venture are new designers but that didn't stop me from wanting to explore the fruits of this collection. So, I borrowed a few of my favourite styles for a little shoot in the park...