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Truce Designs

A surfing sailor who sews bags from pre-consumer recycled materials and scraps from Coast Guard uniforms

by Adrienne So in Travel on 02 December 2013

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Dry suit fabric and sailcloth are among mankind’s sturdiest manufactured materials, designed to hold up under some of the wildest conditions the ocean has to offer. So what happens to all the scraps that don’t end up in a Coast Guard airman’s kit, or stowed onboard a schooner? Luckily, some of it ends up in the hands of Portland-based designer Luke Mathers of Truce Designs.

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Mathers is not a sports-gear designer by training but after two years of sailing on Portland State University’s racing team, he bought his first sewing machine in 2006 and started stitching together small handbags as a hobby. As a business, Truce Designs has grown slowly and steadily ever since. The company’s success is a result of helpful tips acquired from friends also employed in apparel and bag manufacturing, as well as Mathers’ style sensibility and the inclusion of design details inspired by his own hobbies as a sailor, cyclist and board sports fanatic. Truce’s bags are made for the urbanite who needs a bag that will also hold up at the river, the mountains or the coast.

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Each bag is made to order and hand-sewn in Truce’s studio. While they can be customized (according to size and what materials Mathers has in stock) each bag generally includes components such as CiloGear’s D-ring strap system to compress the bag’s contents or strap on a skateboard. Mathers sources his scraps from local sailcloth and dry suit manufacturers, so each bag is limited edition. When we visited Truce’s studio, he had recently acquired a batch of scraps that were originally intended for Coast Guard dry suits. He has also recently started experimenting with fabrics from heritage companies like Pendleton and Woolrich.

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Truce Designs bags are available at any of the brand's stockists, with prices ranging from $28 for a simple shopper to $380 for a medium duffel. Customers can contact Mathers directly to find out what fabrics are currently available. For updates on current designs, check out Truce’s Tumblr.

Studio photos by Adrienne So, product images courtesy of Truce Designs

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