Herschel Supply Co. relies on a couple of staple styles — a few silhouettes done really well, that return season after season in new colorways and fabrications. Its latest innovation is more than just a pretty new print or hue combo, though: The Canadian brand just debuted a new collection using Sealtech, a nylon material that can reseal and recover from punctures. At first glance, it looks like your run-of-the-mill black nylon; technically, it's lightweight, waterproof ripstop. But once you pierce through the material with a pen (or any of the other random pointy objects that tend to float around in your bag), you'll witness the fabric working its magic: The double-sided coating on the material allows it to reseal itself using only the natural heat of your hand. Simply rub over the damaged spot, and the hole will disappear, thanks to reinforced threading on the nylon that tightens up around the affected area. (See video below.) Granted, this kind of trippy recovery effect only really works for small lacerations, not bigger scissor or blade rips. But it's a pretty cool antidote to the typical wear-and-tear that our handbags and backpacks have to endure.
These Sealtech-powered products have been two years in the making. Jamie Cormack, cofounder of Herschel Supply Co., tells Refinery29 that the technology is based on a combination coating that was already around in the outdoor industry. "We saw an opportunity to bring it into our collection and apply it to a lifestyle product by taking an existing fabric and refreshing it," Cormack says. Ushering the technology into Herschel's product lineup was just a matter of timing.
This new range is distinctive not only in its fabrication, but also in its minimal branding. (You'll notice the signature white patch with Herschel's logo, seen on practically every other piece of its collection, is MIA.) The reasoning is two-fold: "From the beginning, we wanted a super clean and minimalist aesthetic, and we also didn't want to stitch a label onto such a technical fabric," Cormack sats. Cormack isn't concerned about competitors developing similar materials. He believes that the more innovation that's brewing, the better. "We continually push ourselves to experiment with new fabrics and new ways to work with our manufacturing partners, and we hope that others would do the same," he says. As for Sealtech's potential impact on the fashion industry, Cormack thinks it speaks to a bigger trend toward technical capabilities. "People are looking for a functional, durable piece that looks great, and this demand is changing the way products are being designed," he says.
The backpack and the duffle in the inaugural Sealtech range retail for $149.99 and $99.99, respectively — a little bit higher than how Herschel typically prices those silhouettes. "We always reverse-design our products, working backwards from the price point we aim to hit and adding the features and materials we're able to include within our targeted price," Cormack explains. "These Sealtech pieces were designed for a customer that would already be shopping in the price range we’re providing." This is just the first cameo Sealtech is making in Herschel's offerings: The brand has some more colorways and even mixed-fabric designs in the works for 2017. Surely the novelty of self-healing nylon in a basic, all-black palette will keep us busy until then.