The contents of freshman Rosie Alleva’s new gray Herschel Supply Co. backpack include a MacBook Pro, headphones, various chargers, pens, a notebook, her wallet and usually some snacks. She said she carries “literally everything” in her bag, so she wanted to choose something “with style” when she was shopping for her first year of college.
Herschel was founded by Lyndon and Jamie Cormack in 2009, and is named after a town in Saskatchewan, Canada.
“Based in Vancouver, Canada, Herschel Supply Co. is a design driven global accessories brand that produces quality products with a fine regard for detail,” the company’s website reads.
Backpacks are the most popular Herschel product appearing on the UNH campus. The company, however, makes a variety of items including technology cases, hats and travel gear. Most are adorned with a white Herschel label. While the bags might appear simple and basic, they are rugged, functional and gender-neutral.
The company offers numerous bags for shoppers to choose from, but the most popular ones with Wildcats are the “Heritage,” “Pop Quiz” and “Little America” styles. The “Heritage” backpack is one of Herschel’s most basic models. It features a diamond badge, a single front pocket and pebbled zipper pulls. Another basic backpack is the “Pop Quiz,” with its multiple pockets, organizing space and front compartment for small items like sunglasses.
Herschel also offers rucksacks such as the “Little America,” which has leather straps with matching leather detailing, back padding and magnetic closures.
However, Alleva said that the rucksacks lack pockets and space.
“With limited space, you kind of have to arrange things in a certain way,” she said.
Each category comes in a range of solid colors, from coral and tan, to prints like camouflage and polka dots.
Freshman M.J. Pelletier, has the light blue suede “Pop Quiz” style Herschel bag. Hailing from New Brunswick, Canada, Pelletier first learned about Herschel at the Rothesay Netherwood School in her home province, where many other students had the bags. Like her peers, Pelletier purchased the bag before heading off to college.
“My favorite thing about it would have to be the protection that it provides to my computer,” Pelletier said. “With the great features [the bag] has, it can also add style to your day with the different colors that [the bags] are offered in.”
While most Wildcats sport their bags on campus, senior Kathleen Le takes a different approach. She uses her yellow “Little America” bag for trips. The backpack has leather straps and looks similar to a traditional hiking pack. Le said she would not recommend the bag for day-to-day use. She cited the style’s lack of a side water bottle holder as a key reason why she does not use it for school.
While many Herschel Supply Co. backpack owners are happy customers, freshman Veronique Ok said she would not recommend the bags to others.
“I like a clean-cut look and the simplicity of it,” she said about her navy “Little America” Herschel bag.
Despite its positive aesthetic qualities, Ok said the bag was not practical.
“It’s overpriced for the brand itself. The fit isn’t good, and it’s not efficient, like how a backpack should be. It’s mostly for aesthetic,” Ok said.
Herschel bag carriers on campus may seem to be overwhelmingly female, but male students like senior Zilong Wang also like the products. He bought a bright red “Heritage” Herschel bag for school. Though he has not seen many people on campus with them, Wang said that the brand appeals to people for “daily, general use, for students.”
Herschel products are not marketed to any specific type of consumer, and the brand’s neutrality gives its products a wide appeal, but young adults seem to be a prime audience. Pelletier said that the bags are more common in Canada, especially at universities and private schools.
UNH students tend to favor neutral colors like black or blue, but bags in brighter shades or with patterns have also been spotted.
Many students bought their bags from Amazon or other sites, but some got theirs from retail stores as well. No matter where they are purchased, the bags tend to cost $40 to $70, depending on the size and style chosen.
Zumiez, a store in The Mall at Fox Run in Newington, sells Herschel products locally. They carry basic as well as “hiking” styles, which sell for around $60 to $100, as well as the brand’s hip packs. The most popular item is the “Pop Quiz” bag in navy or black, as it has space for a laptop as well as extra padding and lining. Though the bags sell year-round, the back-to-school season brings an increase in sales to the store.
Herschel bags “are super popular, sell well, and have a great warranty. Customers are aware of the bag’s reputation and quality. They know what they’re are paying for,” Zumiez’s assistant manager Ryan Gibbons said.
“The Herschel bags are great products, and I am very glad that I waited to purchase one. I enjoy it every day as I am walking around campus,” Pelletier said.
If this year’s rise of Herschel bags is any indication, there will be even more in Durham come the 2016-17 academic year.