JanSport Resurrects the Summer of Love

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I’m a sucker for a great love story — especially one set in my favorite fashion decade, the 1960s. Most brands born of this chaotic and frenetic period of overt expression have not withstood the test of time, and those that have tried to self-resurrect have not done so successfully … except for one, JanSport. Yes, the “backpack” line. JanSport was founded in the summer of 1967, the famed Summer Of Love. Three college graduates — Skip, Murray, and Jan — attempted to forgo the confines of a corporate existence, took Murray’s award-winning aluminum frame pack design, and turned it into perhaps the most successful outdoor gear brand in the world. So where’s the love story?

Jan was a seamstress, and Murray told her if she converted his design into a pack they could sell, he would marry her and name the company after her. He kept his word, and JanSport was born.

Jump to 2009. Perhaps feeling romantic, perhaps feeling the emergence of a powerful vintage trend, JanSport is reintroducing its earliest designs: the Heritage Series. I happened upon this oh-so cool collection at the Project tradeshow a few weeks ago, and let me tell you — it is time for hipsters and corporate types alike to celebrate. The capsule line consists of 13 different styles, each available in JanSport’s signature color palette. The fabrics are designed to look weathered and worn, and each piece includes antique brass metal zippers and their classic seatbelt straps. They also brought back the original woven label for maximum impact.

The Ski & Hike style originally designed in 1969 is interestingly the most modern and urban of the designs, with a sleek, clean shape. Available in the brand’s classic brights, it’s sure to be the most universally sought after. I also love the Hoss; it’s more functional and durable, though with its chic subdued color palette it could be the perfect bag for the man on the perpetual go. The collection just hit stores in January and is so hot that it has already sold out at many retailers. Paragon Sports still has several styles, with prices ranging from $50-$150.