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MRKT's Sleek Vegan Backpacks and Bags

Made from specially developed felt, animal-free suede microfiber and more

by Nara Shin
on 30 March 2016

The name Mad Rabbit Kicking Tiger (MRKT for short) certainly stirs curiosity, but it's the brand's streamlined backpack, briefcase, weekender and bum-bag (or fanny-packs) silhouettes—and their use of unconventional materials—that distance it even further from the avalanche of options out there. It's also unsurprising to learn that MRKT's origins hail from the world of architecture—and that one of its co-founders is an accomplished international architect.

"I came to China in the early 2000s after working in NYC for several years because this is where all the action is for a young architect," co-founder and design director Tom Pen tells CH. "I was able to design and build over 25 buildings, which is impossible back in the States. The downside to building so much [here] is that I had to deal with a lot of non-professional people along the way, which leads to compromises. This is why I started a product venture. It's a way for me to be involved in the whole vertical process and create thoughtfully designed and well-crafted goods for like-minded people." He adds on his design inspirations, "I have always loved architects like Álvaro Siza, Luis Barragán, and Alberto Campo Baeza. They are Southern Minimalists with a lot of character, messiness, and full of sunshine. I seek their spirit in all the bags we make." Their influence is especially noticeable in the more audacious colorways like copper and ultramarine blue, and at the essence of each piece is lighthearted warmth.

I truly believe felt is the most overlooked material out there

"I am not at all a vegan; I love beautiful leather as well as sturdy canvas or our dynamic felt and microfiber [but] there are so many material options out there, I think it would be wise to use less animal by-products," says Pen. "I truly believe felt is the most overlooked material out there. It is the oldest man-made fabric, yet I think it's the coolest also. It is strong, light, water-resistant, mold-resistant, static-resistant, and it's recyclable. Not to mention, they make beautiful funky bags." He worked with a German supplier to invent the surface seared SUPR felt, which "has an all-season texture with all the benefits of felt," as he describes, and doesn't pill. There's also a range of other unconventional materials, including the animal-free MCRO Suede and MCRO Leather (actually made from microfiber), VEGN Leather (made from polyurethane), biodegradable waterproof THRMO Resin and more.

MRKT bags are available from their webshop as well as stockists throughout the US, Canada and Australia. New colors and materials will continue to be introduced over the coming months.

Images courtesy of MRKT Bags

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