With their deep blue hue, bold graphics and contrast lining, Nankeen's bags, ties, pillows and other accessories win points for looks alone. The vivid color and name comes from an ancient Chinese hand-printing process using indigo dye (much like Japan's Nakajima), which has shown up as inspiration for artists and designers over the years — most recently on the runways of Thakoon. After toting one of their Wave big bags on a few different weekend trips, I'm also impressed by the thoughtful design elements, attention to detail and high level of quality.
Sturdily constructed out of thick cotton, the craftsmanship that goes into making the bags (they're all made by artisans in Shanghai) is apparent in everything from the perfectly-aligned seams to the tough zippers and the overall feel. These are products that will see you through the years; we can imagine the fabric taking on a pleasing patina of age as well.
Two zippered interior pockets (why just have one?) are useful, as are wide handles that work both over the shoulder and carried in hand. Without being overly bulky, the generous size accommodates a weekend or longer, even allowing me to stash a gallon water bottle when I was in a pinch. I also like the wide flat bottom, making the bag easy to pack and to set down while in transit (although I was hesitant to get it dirty) and the dual zipper pulls. Both the interior and exterior pulls are little cloth knots, further testament to the careful consideration put into Nankeen.
Bags come in a variety of other sizes too — from totes to clutches — and ties and pillows are the perfect way to add crisp patterns without being too stuffy or too out there. Big bags are $225 (extremely reasonable for its size) and all products are available online from Nankeen.