I recently travelled to Bergamo, Italy for Raggio -Stile Di Vita A Pedale — a conference on bicycling and sustainable living. The event was held in a small town just north of Bergamo — Alzano Lombardo — in a former paper mill and printing plant. The building itself was probably vital in the early part of the 20th century. It is now mostly empty, save for the top floor which is a dedicated conference space, and a few places on the bottom that are used for various things, including a bicycle polo field.

I went first because they invited me and second, because finding Sustainability conferences in the US is difficult. Doubly difficult because, when they are announced, they are insanely expensive to attend. Raggio has two great advantages — a specific topic (bicycles and sustainability) and a human cost. It was cheaper to fly to Bergamo, stay in a hotel, and attend the conference than it would be pay the entry fee to any Sustainability conference here in the US.

The people attending Raggio were passionate about bikes and about using bikes as an urban commuter tool. Italy and Europe in general is way more down with using bikes to commute. Milan, the major city just south of Bergamo, has a very ambitious plan in reducing car and scooter use around the city. There are now multiple city bike programs available, so a bicycle is almost always available. Frame builders are making some amazing city bikes for those who want their ride more stylish. Seeing men in suits cycling around the city is always good.

Corollary to having access to bicycles, and using them in an Urban setting, people need to be able to carry their lives on the commute. Whether its by train or by bicycle, the means to effectively get your daily stuff from one place to another is part of the equation.

In the case of Sidgl, the desire is to make bags that are equal to the beautiful and functional city bikes.

What I told people in Italy is what I tell all everyone I am lucky enough to make a bag for: My focus is on Style, Comfort Accessibility, and Personal Expression.

Style: Good design Matters. Not just having something that looks good, but something that has classic lines. Elegance pays . Others notice it, and that discernment pays positive dividends. Also — good design is fundamentally sustainable. Good design means you won’t be rushing out again to buy a bag soon. If a design can age for 20 years that is a great thing.

Comfort: It’s not just what you carry, it’s how you carry it. I spend a great deal of time thinking about how weight can be distributed across a body. How shapes and strap alignment can conform to a body and spread the load. Further, I offer a strap option that can be converted from cross-body to backpack-style carry. Add to that a handle, and you can carry the bag any way you need to.

Accessibility does not mean a lot of pockets. It means having a pocket handy where you need it. Accessibility means YOU can access it easily, but others can’t. I can’t stress enough that I am not a fan of lots of little pockets. Theoretically a great way to organize your stuff, but in practice, it keeps the bag from being readily versatile. I’m just not that pre-planned to always know what’s in every pocket. I mean, are you?

Personal Expression.Every client gets to choose the colors they want. They can add pockets, take away pockets. They can add padding or decide on leather or canvas. They can decide on straps and they can work out any specifics needs or wants with me.

Because everything I do is small-batch and custom, I can respond like that.

When I explained this to people in Bergamo, or to people here, they get excited.

They get interested.

Sidgl is about revolutionizing the morning commute by putting great design into the world. Showing that off in Italy, of all places, was pretty great.

Lucabrando Sanfilippo helping out at the Sidgl table

About Ben Trissel

Ben is the Founder of Sidgl, 4th generation craftsman and designer that believes in thoughtful design, sustainable manufacturing and functional beauty. Sidgl makes handcrafted bags that are designed to look good, feel good and above all function well.

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I am constantly in pursuit of my 3-goals for sidgl -- better design, greater sustainability and working with a community of like-minded individuals.  Join me as I explore this fashion revolution. --Ben


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