Numerous companies offer some level of gear customization — Timbuk2, Nike, and even The North Face to name a few. But none has gone so far as to connect you directly with the people making your stuff in order to co-design a piece of gear together. Looking to bridge the gap between the gear you buy and the place it is made, Cotopaxi created the Connect program.
The Cotopaxi Connect program lets you hand-pick the look of their best-selling Luzon Pack, and then work with an expert pack maker who’ll complement the colors you’ve chosen for the rest of the pack before sewing it together. The result is a custom piece of gear with a connection between you and the person who made it.
We had a chance to talk to Davis Smith, founder of Cotopaxi, when he was in San Francisco last week. The idea for Connect came to him when he visited the pack factory in the Philippines and noticed a couple of things. First, a ton of material went to waste as scraps or as leftover rolls from previous pack orders. Second, the extremely talented people putting the packs together had no input into the design of the packs they were making.
To give the factory workers more ownership in the design process, Cotopaxi first started the Luzon Del Dia program which let workers choose every component of the pack from material that would otherwise go to waste. The program was such a success that the Cotopaxi team now want to take it a step further and give you as a customer a direct connection with the people making your gear.
The Connect project lets you hand-pick the colors you want for the front, side panels, bottom, and top of a Luzon pack. You then work with an expert pack maker in the Philippines who’ll complement the colors you’ve chosen for the rest of the pack before sewing it together. The result is a custom piece of gear with a connection between you and the person who made it. Cotopaxi is in the process of training workers in areas such as color and design.
For $65, you get the chance to customize your own Luzon pack. The design portal will be up and running by January 2017 and then in April-May 2017, you will receive your pack. While Cotopaxi Connect is starting with the Luzon pack, the company plans to eventually expand the program into other products.