The rake

The modern voice of classic elegance

StyleMay 2018

Troubadour: Made for Travel

Modern brand Troubadour has created refined bags and accessories that are as sophisticated and versatile as they are durable and practical.

captionThe ziptop rucksack has a zipper which opens two-way and the internal organisation pockets are padded and large for a myriad of different items.

A brand’s name is arguably the most fundamental part of a company; a few words responsible for communicating an entire ethos. Although a relatively new company, Troubadour has managed to establish its own symbolic heritage through its title, while underlining the importance of quality materials and design. “A Troubadour is a medieval minstrel who travelled from place to place sharing stories,” says Co-Founder Abel Samet. “This name resonated with us as we thought about sharing the stories of the talented people we work with and the stories our products will forge with their new owners.”

It was these narratives of heritage that inspired Abel and Samuel Bail to abandon their careers in finance and establish Troubadour in 2011. The two met while working in London and quickly realised a common dissatisfaction with the available overnight and weekend bags on the market. “Working in the city, we travelled a lot and so we wanted a bag that was high-quality but not too flashy,” says Abel. “Most importantly, we wanted something which had a modern aesthetic to it which didn’t feel heavy and clumpy and was ultimately comfortable to use.”

With this clear idea in mind, the pair embarked on a series of expeditions across Europe to source the best quality raw materials and artisanal experts, including zip-makers and leather tanners. “We were amazed by the people we met,” says Abel. “All their family traditions, the history of their trade and the prospect of sharing many of these stories were incredibly exciting for us.” Their business began small at first, originally crafting bags for themselves and then on an ad hoc basis for colleagues and friends. However, their clientele quickly grew and seeing the high demand, the pair left their jobs to take up Troubadour full time.

With the aid of experienced Creative Director Samantha Jacob, every design has a key directive – to craft an elegant bag with the comfort usually assigned to more sports-centred and technical pieces. This is achieved with hidden pockets and using minimal lines on the body to form a smooth and clean-cut silhouette while implementing technical aspects such as S-shaped shoulder straps and electro-moulded back panels. “We work really closely with our factories in the designs that we do and there’s definitely a learning process along the way,” says Abel. “Building a new product from concept to production is probably an 18 month to two-year process for each style and even in production we are still always looking for ways to improve our samples.”

Take the Weekender for example, one of Troubadour’s first designs and a hero piece. It is handcrafted in Italy from the brand’s innovative DryFibre material, a naturally-waterproof leather that’s achieved using specialist techniques in the tanning process. The leather is treated to form a water-resistant coating, one which is long-lasting, highly durable and leaves the leather soft. With minimal seams and hidden outside pockets, the body is smooth and streamlined, giving it a sophisticated edge. By using fewer pieces in the pattern, the bag is also unusually lightweight for its size. Technical features include multiple internal compartments, generous elasticated pockets for easy access to valuables and a detachable two-way stretch shoulder strap with a comfortable non-slip shoulder pad. “What makes this bag so appealing is its versatility,” says Abel. “It will work for business travel and pair well with tailoring or for a more casual trip, whether that be skiing or a beach holiday. It’s not an obvious work bag.”

Versatility is the overarching benefit of all Troubadour products, which range from refined leather weekend bags, briefcases and wallets to sturdy technical canvas tote bags or practical nylon rucksacks. For each product, every functional detail has been thought of, from padded pockets for a laptop to Evaporative Ventilation Technology for better breathability. The result is a range of minimalist bags and accessories with maximum practicality, which serve as sleek travel companions for the sartorially-inclined man.

Having now staked its claim within the field of luxury goods, it seems Troubadour is growing on its own terms, and rightly so. “Our company’s growth owes a lot to word of mouth and our business tends to double each year largely thanks to the fact our customers love the products,” explains Abel. In turn, this allows the company to focus on improving the product rather than spending time on advertising and marketing. “Durability is key to our brand’s honesty and survival,” says Abel. “When you buy a Troubadour bag, you are investing in something you will have for 20 years and, maybe even more so, it is important we follow through on that.” And so, much like the medieval minstrels the brand is named after, Troubadour bags will continue to travel the world and share the stories of its creators for years to come.

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The Rake, Troubadour
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Natasha Drax

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