Howies have been talking about this for a while now. And now they've done it. They've launched a range of stuff that is designed to be very long-lasting. They guarantee it for 10 years. So they've made very high quality stuff. Which is correspondingly expensive. But, as Matt points out, its sort of in-line with Bruce Sterling's last Viridian note:
"It's not bad to own fine things that you like. What you need are things that you GENUINELY like. Things that you cherish, that enhance your existence in the world. The rest is dross.
Do not "economize." Please. That is not the point. The economy is clearly insane. Even its champions are terrified by it now. It's melting the North Pole. So "economization" is not your friend. Cheapness can be value-less. Voluntary simplicity is, furthermore, boring. Less can become too much work.
The items that you use incessantly, the items you employ every day, the normal, boring goods that don't seem luxurious or romantic: these are the critical ones. They are truly central. The everyday object is the monarch of all objects. It's in your time most, it's in your space most. It is "where it is at," and it is "what is going on."
And I bought one of their backpacks and it arrived on Monday.
I've been a backpack junky for years. I must average about 3 a year. Looking for the perfect thing. Which is silly. So I'm going to stop and commit to this one bag. And I'm going to get rid of the others that are sitting under the stairs, in the garage, in storage at the moment.
(picture stolen from the Howies blog, hope that's OK)
Now, of course, Howies are not the first to make high-quality stuff, nor the first to guarantee it for a long-time, many things are guaranteed for longer, but what I like is the ceremony and expectation they're wrapping around the Hand-Me-Down range. Like this certificate of ownership thing in the jacket. (Though there doesn't seem to be one with the bag, which is a shame. Howies - is there one and I've just missed it?) This kind of pre-experience design creates expectations around the ownership experience; turns it from a product to a project. And I like the way they've not just abdicated responsibility for their stuff once they've sold it to you. You get a sense that there's a conversation integrated into the product. (Ah-ha).
So I've been thinking about how I can continue to projectise this product. And how this bag can have a 10-year + story. So I'm trying to add spimeiness to it and to use internet stuff as a memory aid for this thing. So, I've created a unique URL for it at thinglink, in the spirit of the skuwiki idea. And I've built a tumblblog for it at HMDbag.tumblr.com. That tumblr extracts things from flickr and delicious that I've tagged appropriately, so it's sort of self-generating. I imagine telling the story of the life of the bag that way, keeping it as a project not a product.
But what would be really nice would be if it could tell its own story more. Generate its own data. I could attach an RFID tag, but I'm not quite sure what would ever read it. I guess ideally it would have it's own GPS logging stick sewn in. Or something. The good thing though, about a 10-year + project is that you don't have to have it all sorted at the begining. When GPS tracking chips are cheap, robust and powered by eating lint I can just chuck one on.