Supporting locally made products can be difficult when you aren’t aware of the people making the products and what they are making. I’ve found that if you ask just a few people, you’ll find out about more than a couple of people getting started or already thriving in some sort of production—and often times it’s more unique and affordable than things you can find mass produced. University of Pittsburgh grad, Anthony Kovacs, is only one example of a creative Pittsburgher with a style similar to Herschel (only more uncommon and individual).
Name: Anthony Kovacs
Role: Owner and Designer
CollegeFashionista: What do you do and how would you describe the general aesthetic of your products?
Anthony Kovacs: I cut and sew backpacks by hand at my apartment studio in Bloomfield. A backpack that borrows common pack-like characteristics and blends them with bright colors to create unique and functional packs.
CF: How much time goes into each piece?
AK: Depending on the amount of features: bottle pocket, internal pockets etc… a bag can take anywhere from six to nine hours. The average time I would say is probably seven hours though for 80% of the bags I make.
CF: What made you decide to start making these/what training or previous experience did you have?
AK: For the last several years I have had a strong interest in raw denim but moreso in the last one and a half years. In summer 2014, I went to a sample shop estate sale and bought a singer industrial sewing machine for 200 dollars. I did not really know how to sew or even make anything but I had a desire to create something and it seemed like such a good deal! Quickly after I got the machine home and figure out how to use it, I realized how difficult it was to actually make any apparel with my knowledge. It sat for a few weeks until I was talking to a friend in L.A. on Facebook and I was telling him how I kind of hit a wall when I figured out how clothing was gonna be way too hard to make. He asked me to make him a little glasses pouch and said he would pay me if I did. I spent some time and fumbled my way through this little pouch as cleanly as I could. He ended up loving it and asking for another and from there I kept on doing that for a few months.
I eventually stumbled upon the instagram account @rucksack_village and was so inspired by this dude’s packs that I thought to myself I maybe could do that since there is no single backpack pattern. Packs can be easily made up using just square shapes which made it much easier to work with than garments.
Over the past year I have spent quite a bit of time mimicking bags I saw online but eventually started designing my own types of bags. Hopefully soon I will have a fully functional site up to order from.
CF: How do you try to gain more exposure for your products?
AK: While I have been learning to make bags I have also been finishing up my degree in studio arts so I have just been making bags mainly for friends through word of mouth. Now that I have finished school I plan on taking the next couple months to build a site and bag designs to choose from and the bags will be available to buy online and then made to order. I am unsure if I’ll sell bags in stores locally right away, may just stay online to begin with but I am definitely open to the idea of participating in pop up shops around PGH.
CF: Is this something you’re doing for now or that you think you’ll continue to do?
AK: Yes. I would like to make a living doing this.