Like any brand, EASTPAK stands tall because its roots run deep. In this piece, we thought we’d go back to those roots. Dig around a little in the fertile soil around them. Get our hands dirty. And see what we could find. We don’t know about you, but we think it’s an interesting story.
And for the start of that story, we have to go back quite a way because EASTPAK has been making high-quality packs and bags since 1952. That was the year Eastern Canvas Products USA, with Monte Goldman at the helm, landed its first military contract. It did so by manufacturing high-quality duffels, backpacks and safety equipment for the US Army. And while the brand we know today may have outgrown those early roots, it still owes its rigorous quality standards to these early beginnings, when quality really could mean the difference between life and death for the American G.I.
But it wasn’t until 1976, when Monte’s son Mark joined the company at age 29, that the real seeds of worldwide success were sown and the EASTPAK brand really came into its own. Mark Goldman, the free-thinking pianist fresh out of college, brought a new sense of energy, vision and direction to the company’s consumer line. More importantly, however, he brought with him an idea. While studying at university, he noticed that the “cool” students weren’t carrying briefcases around anymore but army issue bags. What he noticed, in other words, was a gaping big hole in the market. Monte Goldman took a bit of convincing but in the end he gave the green light for a trial production run and Mark set off for a Chicago trade fair in 1977 with the first range of backpacks, duffels and shoulderbags for the consumer market. When the first flurry of orders followed soon after, Mark knew he was onto a winner.
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