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Pacific Tote Company makes canvas bags inspired by the colours and culture of California – more specifically, the bright, dreamy California seen in 1970s sunscreen ads and David Hockney’s swimming pool paintings (those are just two references snagged from the company’s addictively scrollable moodboard.)
The brand was founded in 2012 by the filmmaker Roman Coppola and their range of totes, duffels and pouches are all designed and constructed in Los Angeles. Because most of their sales happen online, and they ship bags to customers all over the world, packaging plays a big role in Pacific Tote Company’s customer experience. They use a broadsheet newspaper, printed with their own playful riff on Sunday comics, to make a fun and memorable first impression.
Below, they tell us about the origin of the brand, where they find inspiration for new colours and why a newspaper is a "secret detail" that adds personality to their packaging.
Our founder, Roman Coppola, was inspired by a visit to Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu, a Japanese bag manufacturer. When he searched for an American equivalent, he found that they all had a muted, East Coast feel.
As a California native, he wanted a high-quality beach bag inspired by the fun style of California. Through the Special Projects division of his production company, The Directors Bureau, he launched Pacific Tote Company.
We use a lot of classic California imagery: the former license plate, the state flag, the Golden Gate Bridge—they've all become bags. Most of the imagery is from the 1970s, but broadly it's a pastiche of the '60s, '70s and '80s.
We've also built up a reference library of book covers, art, photography, objects... really anything. One of our bags is just inspired by an egg. Our "Tan Lines" bag, which evokes those heavy '80s tan lines, is an example of how broad and figurative our references can get.
It has actually become a part of our packaging. Because our business is primarily online, we put a lot of work into making our packages as fun as possible.
We ship in colorful poly mailers with stickers and illustrated pamphlets, and now we wrap our totes in these Sunday comics. It's a small detail, but a high impact one that really adds to our first impression.
We're hearkening back to the days when products were wrapped in old Sunday funny pages. Newspaper Club allowed us to not only print our own version, but to omit the back printing to avoid ink rubbing against our products.
We always wanted this newspaper to feel like a real edition of Sunday comics. Part of the fun of it as packaging is that it's like a secret detail. Some people may simply tear through it, thinking it's just a regular paper, but others may catch small details – like ToteTote instead of TinTin – and realize that we've illustrated all of it ourselves.
So far the response has been great! The best moment is when they realize that it's not simply an old newspaper, but a custom-printed printed one with our own spoof comics.
At the beach! 🏖️
Print your own newspaper with Newspaper Club.
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