Thursday, February 13, 2014

Falling in love with the Petra

For at least a year, I've been casually looking for an elegant, practical and understated tote bag. One that I can use everyday when going to work and that adds to my outfit instead of detracting from it. I end up hauling so much stuff back and forth to work: healthy lunches and snacks to keep me from eating sugary fat office treats, a couple of files of current projects and workout clothes. 

In my search for the perfect tote, I felt a little like Goldilocks; it was either too big, too small, too expensive or too cheap. I was on the lookout for something that was just right. And I found it. In the December 30 issue of WWD, I read an article about a bag by a company called Everlane. The simplicity of the featured tote  caught my attention. Turns out it's a San Francisco company founded in 2010 by the then 25-year-old Michael Preysman. Their claim-to-fame is a good-quality, thoughtfully-made $15 T shirt. Recently, they've started offering more luxurious items.

Initially, I skimmed their website to find the bag. But then I found myself really studying the "About" page and even reading their mission statement:

"Our mission: Radical Transparency. We believe customers should know where their products come from and how much they cost to make. That's why we show the processes behind product creation, visit and document our factories, and publish infographics revealing the true cost of each product we make."

That statement is appealing. It's important to know where our clothes came from, especially now that there is so much information about horrible and tragic working conditions in many clothing manufacturing factories.

And I appreciate knowing the cost to make the product. According to WWD the Petra bag costs $190 - $210 to produce. The bag that I was interested in, the Petra Magazine bag, is $325 which is less than twice the cost to produce. 

And with photos of the factory, it doesn't get more transparent than that. The photos show a modern, airy, state-of-the-art looking place in Vicenza, outside of Venice. I like knowing exactly what I am getting, where it was made and why it costs what it does. $325 is not inexpensive, but I felt there was real value. 

But who is the designer? I wanted to know the designer. Well, there's a lovely video of her. 

So I hit the order button.

A few days later, a large, light box arrived. Inside was my carefully packaged tote. With a dust bag! (I love those things). After the online sales pitch, I examined the bag to see if it lived up to it all.

Strong handles, nice large pockets...

A very well-constructed interior...

Even little feet on the bottom.

I've been using my Petra everyday for about a month. My attraction is more intellectual than emotional. It's so understated, it doesn't get noticed. It's so practical, it wasn't love at first sight. But with use, I'm appreciating all its qualities. It's the perfect size. The handles are the perfect length. And the more I am using it, I'm developing a love for the leather. It's rich and thick and very soft and so comfortable to carry. 

And I like a nice thank you note.

The Everlane design philosophy: "Intelligent design. We believe design should be as functional as it is beautiful." The Petra certainly lives up to that.


  1. Lovely bag! And, to quote my mom (and I do every time I spend a hefty sum on an addition to my wardrobe and need to justify it) if you buy an item of quality it will last a lifetime and never go out of style. Love the website. Nice, elegant stuff and reasonably priced.

  2. Your mom was so right! It's obvious that you listened to her wise words with your elegant style. You were the first person I met who wore beautiful Ferragamo shoes. That was a long time ago and I still remember.

    1. Bought in Florence, too!

  3. I've been eyeing this bag for a little while because its so understated yet so elegant! I'm a cross body type of girl and was wondering how comfortable the straps are and if you feel like they're too short (you know how some bags you have to keep raising up because the handles are a whee bit too short) thanks! xx

  4. Me too, I find a cross body bag is the most comfortable and practical when walking around town. But sometimes a tote is the only way to go for carrying lunch, gym clothes and the like. The straps on the Petra are very soft and don't slip and they are adjustable within a few inches. What I like the most is that it doesn't look like I'm carrying something as mundane as my lunch.

  5. Great and practical post. I've seen Everlane's products and wondered if they were worth the price. Glad to have your stamp of approval!

  6. Hi, can you please tell me how tall you are? I thought the Magazine would be too small for me, but the first picture you posted makes it look like it's a great fit for you, so if we are similar in height it will probably work for me too (I'm only 5'2).

    It was a lovely pic with your red coat :-).

    1. I'm about your size and the proportions of the Petra bag are perfect. Glad you like my colorful coat, it sure brightens up a foggy San Francisco morning.