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Thursday
Jul072011

WM J Mills & Co: Cargo Bag

"Our bags are meant for a hard life with lots of bumps, built for their task. These aren't poodles, they are work dogs."

There are multitudes of everyday carry options available. From Duffles to Tote Bags, Typewriter (Messenger) Bags to Flight Bags and everything in between. One of my most recent admirations, is with this beautiful Cargo Bag from the historical brand known as WM J Mills & Co. Aside from lusting after this beauty on the beach the other day, I feel it is arguably one of the best everyday + travel bag, all wrapped up in one.

I recently had the chance to spend some one-on-one time with the jovial Mr. Tom Beatty, from WM J Mills. Not only did I learn a little history within the clothing industry, I also had the opportunity to talk with him about the Mills family, from their inception in 1880 all the way to today. Though he's only been the Business Development Manager at WM J Mills for the last two and a half years, he has been a part of the Mills family for almost 30, as he is married to Mr. Mills daughter. Of course, I had to ask for some of his insight into the materials and process with these bags.

A lot of folks are familiar with WM J Mills Ice Bag over the Cargo Bag, which in my opinion, is its underrated brother. What is the main difference between these two bags?
Mr. Mills patterned both the Ice Bag and the Jitney Cargo bags the same, he just added the zippered top, so dimensionally the Jitney Cargo is the same size as the Ice Bag. (BTW, all of the cargo bags and Tote Bags also have the little security pouch inside as well.)

How heavy is the #8 Cotton Duck Canvas?
The fabric is 18 oz. as it comes off the roll. But the heaviness of the fabric is not the only indicator. The quality review of the bag needs to also consider fitness for use and design; workmanship as well– but that follows design. For example, notice all Mills bags have saddle straps on them. Just like the girth on a saddle holds the saddle and rider on a horse, all of our bags have handle straps that run under the bag so that they won't tear away from the bag and are always directly below the load being carried. Fabric weight alone doesn't give you strength, it is the combination of fabric weight and bag design that gives you strength.
Look inside your bag. Notice that all seams are finished and rolled. Well that certainly looks pretty, but there is also a technical reason. The bag is meant to last a long time and it is designed to be washed over and over. With that as the mission, the seams have to be finished so that they don't fray and allow loose threads to jam the zipper.
Also, we never use leather. While it certainly has its place and there are beautiful leather bags out there made by excellent companies, it doesn't work for us. In the severe environments if we design for leather, it gets mold and mildew on it. It also doesn't do well after repeated washings. Our bags are meant for a hard life with lots of bumps, built for their task. These aren't poodles, they are work dogs.

One of my favorite components of the Cargo bag, is the built in versatility. The zipper closure top actually folds down inside the bag to become a handy tote or carryall. How did you find the perfect zipper for this bag?
In our architectural and marine canvas business, zippers are used everywhere. Therefore over time we have found what works and what doesn't work. Our zippers get exposed to high wind loads, scorching sun, and lots of salt. We always exist in what is called a 'severe environment' with corrosive salt and punishing UV radiation, all the time. We know they work, because we have used them for years and they hold up.
I think our cargo bag series is very versatile. One of my favorite features is the way the bag folds up flat. Many of our friends pack one in their suitcase, so they have an extra bag for the return trip home. They are also good apartment companions, since you can fold them up and store them in a closet. Rigid case bags can't do that. As a weekend or carry-on bag they are great. Both travel bag and tote bag, rolled into one. Before we renamed the bag the Jitney Cargo bag it was used by our boat customers for the all around carryall. It stows away small, but packs big so you can carry a lot from your car to the boat, but after you unpack it it takes little room to store. We also renamed the Jitney Cargo bag, for all our NYC friends who jump the Jitney bus to the East End of Long Island. Their bag carries clothes on the outbound and return, but while in town they have a large tote for all the village shopping best done on foot.

How long does it take a WM J Mills Master Sewer to craft one of these pieces?
We estimate two hours,but that varies depending on the sewer. We don't have a piece-rate shop where sewers are encourage to go fast. We only encourage them to be good. We have been in business a long time, there is no need to hurry.

CREDITS
• Article & Photography by Darian Hocking
• Special Thanks to Tom Beatty & The Mills Family

LINKS
WM J Mills & Co

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