Shutt & ILE have a strong affinity, both small business focusing on quality, handmade cycling products. Based in Berkley California, the brainchild of 25-year-old bike mechanic Eric Fischer, ILE bags are produced in his home/workshop by hand. Eric has created a bespoke version of ILE’s Transit Cycling Backpack just for Shutt.
Eric’s interest in bags for cycling was sparked in 2009. Wanting to carry his tubular racing wheels in a backpack to a local crit race, he sewed a pair of straps onto a wheel carry case – after this he never looked back. Eric began researching cycling backpacks, focusing on ergonomics and assembly methods. He spent the entirety of 2010 sketching out 100′s of ideas, making prototypes and practicing sewing! “There are sewing and fashion classes out there but I like making my own patterns, doing my own research and figuring out how things work by myself,” Eric says.
The very first ILE bags were produced in Eric’s parent’s house, however it quickly became evident that the business needed his own space. Eric moved to a 900 square ft. studio in Berkeley. Turing the studio into a workshop with large cutting tables, bundles of fabric and sewing machine space, the workshop doubles as Eric’s home too…his bed is just feet away from the sewing machines. “I can’t sew for more than 10 hours a day,” Eric says. “I start hallucinating after 10 hours!”
There are often challenges for Eric, who is essentially making a product more suited to mass production, than the small set up he has. “No one wants to sale you ten buckles [for backpacks], you got to buy 200 of them,” Eric says. Acquiring heavy duty sewing equipment also brought problems “This is not used by the majority of people that sew,” Eric says, referring to a small metal cutter. “So it’s not something you can buy at a crafts store. I found it in a sailing shop.”
Eric he spends extra time and money on quality materials and machinery because he wants to make a highy durable, quality product. “This could sit in someone’s back for 15 years.” Above all Eric does what he does because he loves his job “I’m doing it because I really like making bags, I really like making things, I like packing things and sending them out,” Eric says. “Not because I want to make lots of money.”
The Shutt Bespoke ILE Transit bag is available now in limited quantities
Check it out here.
Many thanks to Jason Van Horn for the photos of Eric & his workshop