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Our Favorite Fashion Backpacks for Under $250

Alicia Silverstone in Clueless

If you told us that the ’90s would be back in fashion, we wouldn’t have a doubt about it — after all, like all things, fashion is cyclical, right? But if you were to tell us that the backpack, perhaps the bag that defined the ’90s, would be back, steamrolling past all totes, bucket bags and satchels right onto the runways of the Row, Alexander Wang and Phillip Lim? We would be hard pressed to believe it until we saw it for our own eyes — and then we did. Yes, the backpack is back and it’s here with a vengeance. It’s taking no prisoners and swallowing up the summertime bag trend like nothing else. We’ve spotted them on the backs of chic fashion bloggers and New York’s downtown set (they prefer Chanel’s quilted backpacks or Proenza Schouler’s PS Backpack) as well as overseas at the Milan shows.

What made the backpack so popular still holds true: the utility and convenience of hands-free living and the ability to take just about anything anywhere without straining one shoulder. So instead of saying “As if!” to the trend, we’re embracing it whole heartedly, just like one of our fashion icons, Clueless‘ Cher Horowitz, did. As Queen B of the ’90s, who are we to go against her fashion choices? In an era of Contempo Casuals and Christian Dior, what Cher wore was holy writ. Here are our favorite backpacks for under $250.

LeSportsac Backpack – Voyager

If we had to find something that would fit in Cher’s electronic closet, the Le Sportsac Backpack – Voyager ($148) would be it. The metallic finish and rounded shape look like something straight out of the movie (see above). The backpack features a roomy interior secured by a drawstring closure as well as a snap-fastened flap. The faux-python fabric is sure to be able to take a beating, so go ahead and toss it in the back of your Jeep for impromptu driving lessons or a quick trip to the mall. Cher’s may have been tiny, but today, backpacks are back to normal size, making them perfect for toting laptops and daily essentials.

Available at Bloomingdale’s.

Aimee Kestenberg Tamitha Backpack

Nostalgia aside, the backpacks that we see on the Fashion Week runways are more similar to this Aimee Kestenberg Tamitha Backpack ($228) than a nylon rucksack. Done up in luxe leather and boasting bold hardware, this is something that would fit in among the ranks of Alexander Wang and the Row, only without the quad-digit price tag. It’s smaller than your usual school bag, but it’s great for toting around your daily necessities (it’s even got a great exterior pocket on back for your cell phone). Sleek and clean, this is what the modern backpack is all about.

Rebecca Minkoff MAB Backpack

If there’s a designer that’s got her finger on the pulse of what’s cool and now, it’s Rebecca Minkoff. From bags to cool jackets and now shoes and jewelry, she’s got the downtown look down to a science (it’s usually something like bag + chunky necklace + handful of rings + leather accent jacket = instant cool). The Rebecca Minkoff MAB Backpack ($195) is a great summertime music festival companion.

It’ll hold plenty of water (stay hydrated, festival fans!) along with your outerwear for evening shows and maybe a change of clothes for after your mid-day dip in the pool. It’s got signature Minkoff details such as long tassels and a dogleash clasp, and thanks to its coated canvas exterior, it can take a few beatings and still look great.

Available at Bloomingdale’s.

Topshop Smart Backpack

For something a little more grown up (and let’s face it, a little closer to the Proenza Schouler and Alexander Wang designs), the Topshop Smart Backpack ($76) is a cheap and chic choice. It’s faux leather (but at just $76 dollars, you can’t expect it to be nappa), but that means you won’t have to baby it if you’re caught in a surprise spring shower. The small size combined with minimal embellishment and straightforward black design mean this is great for girls who are more about dressing like they shop at Theory and Helmut Lang than Free People or Anthropologie. Inside, you’ll find organizational pockets a’plenty and a roomy interior that’ll have you toting in style.

Cambridge Satchel Company Portrait Backpack

Ok, so we’re going to admit that this is a tad over our set budget, but the Cambridge Satchel Company Portrait Backpack ($275) carries heritage and craftsmanship along with a great design. You probably recognize a few details from the original Cambridge Satchel, such as the double buckles, hardy leather and attention to detail, but this remixes the design just a bit to create a fresh portrait shape. It’s perfect for carrying and iPad or a netbook and like all other styles from the Cambridge Satchel Co., it’s ready for a monogram so you can have yours stand out from the rest.

Available at the Cambridge Satchel Company.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Domo Arigato Backpack

For the guys out there that want to get in on the trend, a great way to strap on a backpack is with the Marc by Marc Jacobs Domo Arigato Backpack ($198). It’s still got the fashion pedigree of our other choices and let’s just say it possesses more than just a passing resemblance to a backpack we spied from Givenchy. Being all black makes this a stealthy choice, and it’s big enough to stow everything you need for an overnight trip. Gold zippers and leather accents add to the backpack’s luxe styling. Girls will appreciate the roomy interior, too, and the fact that at just under $200, it’s priced below most MbMJ purses.

Shop our favorite backpacks:

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Monday Muse: Christine Keeler Inspires Burberry’s Christopher Bailey

Christine Keeler

Christine Keeler

Spies, espionage, sex appeal. International capers and intrigue might not be the calling card of British brand Burberry, but creative director Christopher Bailey tapped into one aspect of the brand’s storied trenches that’s more about seduction than stormproofing. Christine Keeler, the showgirl-turned-government-liability that made news headlines in the ’60s inspired a collection charged with sex appeal at Burberry Prorsum. After all, it’s what’s under the trench coats that really gets spies and normal gentlemen alike hot under the collar.

Christine Keeler

Before Thatcher’s stiff upper lip and the womanizing ways of a certain Mi6 agent, Christine Keeler was a burlesque beauty who captivated a nation by adding a Russian spy, a British Secretary of State of War and a drug dealer to her list of lovers. Keeler met British Secretary of State of War John Profumo at a pool party and the two became romantically involved, but it wasn’t so much a Bridget Jones romantic comedy as it was a government scandal that makes the Clinton and Lewinsky scandal seem like teenage sexting. Keeler’s involvement with Johnny Edgecombe, a drug dealer, and Yevgeni Ivanov, a Russian spy, made her responsible for discrediting the entire conservative movement in ’60s England. Known for her long legs, come-hither looks and her fluent use of body language, she was the sex bomb that blew up and caused in international incident.

Burberry Prorsum Fall 2013

Burberry Prorsum Fall 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And since spies romanticize the trench coat (concealed weapon or concealed lingerie — take your pick) more than any other sartorial staple, leave it to the masterful Christopher Bailey to draw from Keeler’s sex appeal for his latest collection for Burberry Prorsum.

Entitled Trench Kisses, he added fetishistic touches to the classic trench silhouette — think menswear-inspired loafer tassels as well as see-through rubber insets — that left little to the imagination. Model of the moment Cara Delevigne trotted out onto the runway in a rubber skirt, revealing heart-embellished bloomers that were a cheeky nod to Mod styling and models wore an exploded red and blue stripe that recalled a famed Keeler photo shoot from the Sixties as well. In another homage to the Mod era, Bailey sent out his entire lineup of models in shorter heels and styled with simple, no-nonsense hair and makeup. While it may take more than a playful twist on the trench coat to take down the crown, Bailey and Burberry showed that they’ve mastered the realm of digital shopping with their latest showing. Select pieces from the Fall 2013 show, including the heart bloomers, the new Crush bag, which models held like a clutch in their hands, as well as the kitten wedges, were available for pre-order right after Bailey took his bow. They sold out within minutes.

Photos courtesy Style.com and NPG.org

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Three Brands Making Upcycling œber Cool

Marine Layer’s Mike and Adam

Forget your mental image of eco-fashion: Raw-hemmed, itchy hemp or misshapen one-size-fits-most tunics, this is about super-stylish glasses, buttery-soft iPad cases, surfer-chic shirts and slick sportswear. Made out of environmentally sustainable, upcycled materials, these are some seriously guilt-free purchases. Continuing our week-long celebration of Earth Day, we took a closer look at the upcycling trend for taking existing materials, cast-offs and by-products and turning them into enviable, utterly wearable items.

Not just for inventive hipsters, upcycling — the process of taking used goods or waste materials and turning them into something that is often better than the original — is definitely moving closer to mainstream manufacturing. That’s great news for our environment and, it turns out, pretty sweet for our closets too! We’ve highlighted a few of our new favorites that are catching our eye here at Fashion Trends Daily.

Marine Layer Venice

Marine Layer

Michael Natenshon is the brains behind Marine Layer, an apr©s-surf and laid-back lounge wear label out of San Francisco.  €œI was originally in finance but I had a few favorite shirts from college that I€™d worn to death,€ said Natenshon. €œMy girlfriend at the time said, €˜these are pretty gross€™ and she was right, but they were broken in and soft and fit perfectly and I couldn€™t find anything like that in stores, so I thought I€™d try and make them myself.€

After some research, Michael developed a supersoft modal fabric made from recycled beechwood. He also ensured the clothes were made locally in California. Then, in a triple-whammy move, he began offering customers a free repair service for anything they purchased. A shirt from Marine Layer could be a shirt for life!

€œWe€™re working on a macro level,€ said Natenshon. €œAs opposed to big box retailers who encourage disposable fashion, where people buy stuff that€™s made overseas incredibly cheaply. It€™s lower quality but they don€™t care because it€™s $12 from H&M. But the environmental impact of something like that is not sustainable.€

Luckily for Angelenos, Marine Layer just opened their newest store on Venice’s trend Abbott Kinney. They have been inundated with customers, despite the fact that they never market themselves.

€œI think people in Los Angeles appreciate our environmental awareness and that all our stuff is made in California,€ adds Nathanshon. €œWe€™ve been doing really well and we€™re beyond happy.€

Marine Layer is located at 1144 Abbott Kinney, in Venice. For more information, visit www.marinelayer.com.

Looptworks Tiki Case

Looptworks

If you€™re in the market for workout clothes, a great utility bag or a cool new case for your tablet, Looptworks has it all.

Scott Hamlin and Gary Peck founded the Oregon-based company after working together at a big sportswear brand and deciding they wanted to make a difference to the  wasteful manufacturing process.

€œI€™d been working at big multi-national brands,€ Hamlin said, €œand everybody was trying to €˜out-eco€™ each other.

They were creating organic cotton this and recycled poly that and bamboo and soy materials. But I realized the system it was going into was broken. An average of about 30% of materials that go into a standard manufacturing process end up getting thrown away.€

Scott and Gary had seen mountains of excess materials waiting to be incinerated in factories, so in 2010 they were inspired to make their own line out of leftovers.

Looptworks apparel

Looptworks offers relaxed tees and our personal faves: neoprene accessories. Neoprene is of course super hot right now, but Scott and Gary have been using it way head of the fashion pack.

€œWe realized leftover neoprene from wetsuits is usually incinerated, which is very toxic,€ adds Hamlin, €œso we decided we could make phone and tablet cases from it and they€™ve been very popular.€

Their newest offering is the Tiki tablet case. €œIt€™s made from reused scraps of leather we got from a belt maker,€ said Hamlin. €œIt holds your phone, your tablet and your ear-buds, because that€™s all you really need to be mobile.€

It sounds like a perfect accessory solution. We want!

For more information, visit www.looptworks.com.

Vinylize frames

Vinylize

In case you were thinking upcycling stopped at fabrics and leather, check out Vinylize: Glasses made out of €“ wait for it €“ vinyl records. We were stunned when we spotted these on our stylist friend Barbra Horowitz €“ they looked so good we immediately had to know where they were from.

Based in Budapest, one of the guys behind Vinylize, Zack Tipton (AKA Julio Eyeglassias), explains how the idea came to be.

Vinylize frames

€œI was in the family garage which was my workshop and I was testing different plastics to make glasses from,” said Tipton. “It wasn€™t going very well, then I looked in the far corner and spotted my father€™s old record collection. Then it came to me: Let€™s try vinyl!€

Vinylize glasses are hipster magic, heavy and dark-framed and the grooved material adds a certain unique quality.

€œVinylize was founded in 2002 on the principles of making quality glasses from recycled materials,€ said Tipton, €œand the use of old records has given the collection a distinctive look. The frames are big, thick and rugged and the grooves are an integral part of the design. The project serves to remind people to reuse, recycle and conserve.€

These glasses are such a great talking point €“ you€™ll be promoting upcycling and meeting new people wherever you go. It€™s a win-win.

For more information and a full list of stores, visit www.vinylize.com.

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Levi’s Goes Green and Sustainable with Dockers Wellthread Collection

Dockers Wellthread

The team at Levi’s is known for throwing a curveball at their production team. With their Waste<Less and Water<Less capsule collections, which integrate recycled plastic bottles into the fabric of denim and reduce the water used in the wash process, respectively, they’ve shown that there’s plenty the fashion industry can do to reduce its impact on the environment. The brand’s latest effort in sustainability and green fashion is the Dockers Wellthread line (Levi’s owns Dockers). Developed as part of the First Movers Fellowship at the Aspen Institute, the collection utilizes reduced water and energy in the production process and offers clothes that are modern and sleek as opposed to the usual crunch associated with the combination of environmentalism and fashion.

A look from the Dockers Wellthread collection

“How you make a garment is just as important as the garment itself,€ said Michael Kobori, vice president of social and environmental sustainability at Levi€™s. €œWe believe that we can use our iconic brands to drive positive sustainable change and profitable results. With that comes the responsibility to continually innovate for each new generation of consumers.€

The Wellthread Line, which will make its debut on dockers.com, includes just a small collection of eight items, but the brand mentions that a man’s wardrobe is really just an array of variations on basics. The team at Levi’s studied archival items from Levi’s, Dockers and more to see just where guys wear down their clothes the most.

In turn, they reinforced seams, made pockets more resilient and even made buttonholes stronger. The designers also took recycling and reusing into the production process. Dyes used in the Wellthread collection are salt-free and designed to be used in cold water (as opposed to hot, which uses energy and water). Wellthread garments also use long-staple yarn, which isn’t just more durable, but more easily recycled.

€œThe collection is built on the premise that once you become informed of the challenges of environmental responsibility and social value, you have to act to create change,€ said Paul Dillinger, senior director for Dockers global design. €œWe see where we can adjust our social processes and also yield some great men€™s wear.€

A look from the Dockers Wellthread collection

And even the consumer can get involved, because Dockers suggests line-drying for the collection and has even given shoppers ways to make it easier by adding locker loops to all the khaki styles and overlapped shoulder seams on t-shirts so they don’t stretch out when guys hang dry them. The collection will include blazers, shirting and the anchor item: the khaki, as well as t-shirts.

In addition to the environment, the Dockers team is also piloting a new approach with factories. In light of the recent information on Indian and Malaysian factories, the company will be supporting programs that  improve the lives of factory workers across the globe. Dockers Wellthread khakis are made at one of the five factories designated as Improving Workers€™ Well-Being pilot sites, a distinction that Dockers hopes will spread to more factories around the world.