From a plastic bag to a style icon: SUSAN BIJL

From a plastic bag to a style icon: SUSAN BIJL

It all started with The New Shopping Bag...

It seems a bit excessive written like this but we are about to tell you the story of Susan and her brand SUSAN BIJL.

It's all crazy.

Susan created the first design and prototype in the year 2000, after studying at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. Her mission was to replace the single-use plastic bag and reduce the waste involved with its use. Taking the classic shape of the plastic bag as a starting point, Susan made it even more functional by making the side creases deeper, therefore adding volume.

In the local kite store, she discovered the advantages of ripstop nylon. Strong yet thin, lightweight, with an almost paper-thin touch and available in many colours. She added her infamous and iconic ‘Flash’; a diagonal stripe directing positively upward, to be able to add a contrasting colour to her design. The Flash has appeared on every bag design since.

In the first couple of years, Susan sewed hundreds of bags herself at her studio in Rotterdam, after which she was joined by her husband Vincent. Together they developed The New Shopping Bag. It was an instant hit with friends, family and pop-up stores. The bag attracted attention from the press and the interest of boutiques all over the world, including Paul Smith in the UK and Japan’s United Arrows. What started as a small-scale personal art project slowly grew into a more sustainable brand: the SUSAN BIJL family business was born.

Everything is done with a strong love for minimalistic and functional design, from the first sketch to the last stitch.

Twelve years later, the collection started to expand. For each new design we look for products we really want to use ourselves on a daily basis. SUSAN BIJL believes in long-lasting products: quality over quantity. Everything is done with a strong love for minimalistic and functional design, from the first sketch to the last stitch. With this intention, new items were introduced over the years, such as The New Pouch, The New Backpack, The New Bum Bag and The New Raincoat.

Twenty-five collections, three kids, one dog and two Rotterdam stores later, SUSAN BIJL continues to creatively expand. With an emphasis on community we collaborate with artists and institutions that inspire us. This includes Boijmans Van Beuningen, HAY, the city of Rotterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam and a series of fantastic Dutch designers like 75B, Experimental Jetset, Bertjan Pot, Michiel Schuurman, Ellie Uyttenbroek, Dufarge and Koen Taselaar. 

SUSAN BIJL is utterly proud to attract a worldwide audience. The enthusiasm and loyalty of our customers helped spread The New Shopping Bag – in more than 600 variations – from Scandinavia to Australia.

Like most things, you can extend your lifespan by taking good care of it. By taking good care of your bag, it becomes more resistant. Hopefully that means it won't need to be replaced for as long as possible. Luckily, Susan Bijl products don't need much maintenance to stay in shape!

They make bags for grocery shopping, so it's not unlikely that some groceries will break or leak. Either way, your bag could use a freshen-up now and then. Their bags can be machine washed at 30 degrees, preferably using a short program.
Some of their products have a waterproof coating that will fade with every laundry cycle. Especially with raincoats, only wash when it's absolutely necessary!

Also, to avoid wearing down the fabric, it's best to limit washing as much as possible. Every time you wash a fabric, tiny particles of it will shed, the material becomes more delicate, and the water gets polluted by the fragments. If you want to prevent pollution, there are options, like a washing bag. Bags with buckles and metal clasps must be put in a washing bag or pillowcase to prevent damage to the machine or other items in the load.

We recommend washing with eco-friendly soap.
Avoid soaking products when hand-washing, as the colours might run.

If you’re having difficulties removing thorough stains, we recommend washing your bag with Biotex. Same washing method as described above. It’s not a guarantee, but in our experience, it’s worth the try.

Bags are made from, although recycled, synthetic materials. During washing, tiny plastic fibres break and end up in rivers and oceans via the wastewater and thus harm our environment. The Guppyfriend washing bag collects the broken fibres in the corners of the bag. These can then easily be removed and disposed of after the washing cycle. In addition to your usual laundry, if any of your SUSAN BIJL products need to be washed, we highly recommend using a Guppyfriend washing bag.

Their products can be ironed using the nylon setting (1 dot). Please be extra careful not to exceed the nylon setting when ironing our 300D bags, like The New Bum Bag and The New 24/7 Bag. If the iron is too hot, it can damage the waterproof coating. The inside of our 300D products cannot be ironed.

Susan Bijl strongly believe that a small tear, rip or hole is not the world's end. It can easily be fixed by us, yourself or a tailor in your area. In most instances, traces of the repair will be visible, and we love that. It’s like a scar, a sign of previous adventures. They offer a free repair service, or, for our 70D products, you can request a repair kit and easily fix it yourself!

Do you like it?

We were enchanted by this brand and the philosophy that its creator puts into practice.

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