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Spring and summer travel season is quickly approaching (or has already started for some of us), and if you’re hitting the road anytime soon, you undoubtedly need a stylish weekender bag (among other grooming accessories) to be travel-ready. That’s where Jack + Mulligan can absolutely help you out. You might recognize the name from an Esquire piece that ran last year, but they’re absolutely a brand worth getting to know more. The brand is selling at a number of stores in the U.S. and also through a few international accounts — I actually came across them a few weekends ago at The Lodge in NYC.
Founder Colin Gray launched the company a few years ago after working across the fashion industry in retail & magazines (among other stops) and later making small runs of leather goods to give to his friends. Along the way, he struggled to find a bag polished enough for the office but durable and well-suited for weekened trips — leading to a small collection of bags made and distributed to friends and family, and eventually, the creation of Jack + Mulligan; the brand’s name comes from Gray’s first dog, an Irish Water Spaniel named Mulligan, and three Jack Russell Terriers Gray had thereafter. Now, the company employs what you might call a tightly knit team of two full-time employees and a handful of part-timers. That hasn’t hampered their attention to detail, though.
“Early on, I chose to hone in on those small details that I obsess over,” he said via email. “The fabrication, zippers, pockets, stitching and overall quality (of the bags). From the start, I focused on the details.” Gray was also focusd on making pieces that would stand the test of time in both style and durability.
“I remember the first time I saw someone on the street using one of our bags in Manhattan,” he said. “That was a great feeling.”
The brand now has a sizable amount of product (some of which you can see above), ranging from a navy knapsack with fine leather detailing to a run of twill and waxed canvas duffels (like this particularly nice olive duffel). The company is perhaps best well-known for its classic weekender bags, available in three colors and retailing for just under $300. For beach trips and the like, Jack + Mulligan’s tote bags would definitely be worth a look, as well. Perhaps their closest aesthetic competitor might be Herschel Supply Co. in terms of smaller bags, but J+M’s larger pieces are certainly on-par with brands like Navali and Everlane, construced from sturdy twills and featuring leather reinforced handles and zipper pulls.
The brand’s varied offerings really complement an overall lifestyle, Gray said, while also noting that higher-quality accessories are a reflection of a growing interest in men’s fashion overall.
“Guys are having more fun with getting dressed and interested in finding their personal style,” he said. “It’s cool that guys seem to care more about where and how a product is made. An increasing number of people I speak to are becoming educated about fabrics and construction, which is interesting.”
That growing lifestyle interest is also reflected in the home goods the brand produces, like passport wallets and luggage tags. Jack + Mulligan’s water-repellent twill dopp kits also bring a unique combination of rugged style and function. And the brand has plans for the future, too — tapping into a growing customer base and exploring collaborations are both ongoing pursuits for the company, Gray said.
Jack + Mulligan partnered with shaving & grooming gurus Harry’s last year, and future collabs with like-minded brands are in the works — as are new category offerings, Gray notes.
While there are difficulties inherent in running a startup — especially building a brand from the ground up — Gray always tries to enjoy what he does.
“The whole thing is very challenging,” he said. “The most fun for me is the product, being able to take an idea and see it come to fruition.”
Tell me: Have you bought anything from Jack + Mulligan? What’s your favorite product from the site?