PHOTOS BY THEA GOLDBERG
It was as a celebration of the “innovative and industrious American spirit” that Brooklyn based Tielor McBride started his brand of bags in 2011. Produced in New York City from leather and recycled Army supplies, his bags aren’t only stimulating new business in the otherwise shrinking Garment District—they’re also extremely well made. McBride is currently getting ready to release a new TM1985 tote next week (for an exclusive preview, see above).
Just weeks prior to opening his company, McBride sold his first backpack on Etsy. He’d tested prototypes on friends and family, but it was not until that initial sale that he started working with a manufacturer in the Garment District on Manhattan. “I made my first batch of 50 bags: two leather versions and one canvas version made from a reclaimed oilcloth army tent. The canvas one stank like an old barn, but people really loved it and said it felt really authentic,” the designer laughs, noting that all his bags are still produced in the city. “I’m a practical man, I need to hold something in my hand, to see it, touch it, smell it and know it’s good. It’s a lot easier to do it if your resources are close.”
After working a couple of years as a window dresser and later art director in the advertising department of Ralph Lauren, McBride decided to start his own venture. “Breaking away to make all the creative decisions on my own and build a business entirely from scratch was the most plausible direction,” he says, noting he has a hard time working under the direction of others. “It was never easy for me to listen to what other people thought I should be doing.”
“Utility and functionality are the prime motivators. Different activities have different needs and call for something specialized: hiking trips in Nicaragua, schlepping fabric around the Garment District, trips to the farmers’ market,” says the Kansas City-born designer about his inspiration. The line is perpetually growing, and backpacks are no longer the only product available: totes, wallets, dopp kits, gadget pouches, iPad cases, and clutches are all included in TM1985’s rapidly expanding line, which is currently available in 18 stores around the states as well as in Japan and Australia.
FOR MORE ON TM1985, VISIT THE DESIGNER’S WEBSITE.