"Customers want their bags to do more for them," said Alan
Krantzler, Tumi's chief merchandising officer. "A backpack is more
versatile. You can stick a laptop in there or even your gym clothes
if you wanted."
Tumi's spring 2014 campaign, called "Global Citizens,"
prominently features composer Eric Whitacre wearing a backpack in a
testament to the growing emphasis the brand is placing on the
accessory. Ad agency Yard worked on the push, which featured a
catalog, online video, social media, e-commerce and an
international media buy.
The introduction of hip, versatile styles have also helped
elevate the backpack's perception. Herschel, founded in 2009,
creates high-quality backpacks in a variety of sizes and styles,
allowing people to accessorize, look professional, and carry
everything they need with them.
"We started out on young professionals' backs," said Mikey
Scott, global marketing director for Herschel. "People are drawn to
products that are utilitarian and modernized, but still look
Other brands, like Eastpak and JanSport, have also introduced
lines designed for the workplace. They include cord-organizer
pockets, laptop sleeves and areas for miscellaneous items. Many of
the styles are casual, but clean. "The backpacks that are out there
now aren't embarrassing to bring into a boardroom or business
situation," said backpack-wearer Mr. Daines. "I don't see carrying
a backpack as less formal than a messenger bag or briefcase."
But don't put the nail in the briefcase coffin just yet. Not
every job is conducive to backpack-wearers. "A backpack would make
me look like a joke," said Richard Myrlak, a 26-year-old realtor
who carries a briefcase.
Briefcases are still the go-to accessory for professionals like
Mr. Myrlak who want to make an impression in business meetings,
presentations or special events with a briefcase. But even those
have evolved from the classic attaché box-style case with
slimmed down designs that are softer, more casual, and feature more
pockets for various electronics.
The executive is "carrying that throughout the day and into the
night and weekend," said Kevin Korney, senior division merchandise
manager for Fossil Lifestyle, where "work cases" are still the top
sellers. "It's about making sure it fits into his lifestyle, not
just the corporate culture."