The Diana Rubio Backpack is proof that practicality and style can win the pocketbook wars and a student competition that gets your name all over town. When Ms. Rubio was an FIT student in 2011, she designed the student-friendly bag to be sold at Barnes & Noble. It was to be a short-term run for a back-to-school collection. But it went viral. The original khaki nylon bag, worn as a back-pack style or on the shoulder is now in four colors and plaid. It’s the bag that never quits, nor quits selling.
“I think it is a fantastically designed bag. When I see it on the streets of NY I’m proud of our collaboration with Barnes & Noble. Diana created this bag with the student in mind, which created a best-seller.” – Sarah Mullins, Chair of Accessories Design Department
We met up with Diana to learn more about how her design implementation propelled her bag to the top:
“When I design I think what I would want function-wise that’s also stylish. I designed a backpack as opposed to a handbag. I wanted a durable, lightweight material, so my first thought was canvas. Keeping the New Yorker and commuter in mind, I designed quick side pockets to function as easy access when juggling an on-the-go lifestyle. When traveling I don’t want to deal with opening pockets, so that’s where drawstrings came in. I also wanted something versatile for both women and men so I made sure to design a neutral bag that anyone can wear.”
“I was looking for a bag because I commute…it fits my lunch and my textbooks and folders,” says advertising & marketing communications student Brooke Micciola, a current intern at GoGorilla Media. “I’m reading ‘Secrets of the Grave’ – it fits that. I love the side pockets. I do the crossword puzzle so I put it there,”
“I don’t have to go digging. Even inside there’s a zipper one and two smaller ones. After I bought it I was looking at the tag and it said why she designed it. I thought it was so cool.”
Ms. Rubio said she never thought of competing with other designers. “I believe that skews your natural thinking process. It was a mandatory competition, for fashion and accessory design students with other schools involved.”
“I really like it. It’s rustic and urban. It’s like a rare find. It looks like it’s got some history. It’s something you might find in an antique store.”
– pocketbook maven and textile development & marketing major Ashley Ray
The instructions for the contest were loose. “We weren’t given too many specifics, we just were told to submit three to five different ideas. Barnes & Noble then came to FIT to select final entries and made a second decision for a final winner. We went over our designs as a class during our sketch class and had the opportunity to critique each others work. Professor Vasilios Christofilakos also came in to give further critique. It always helps to have others’ perspective.”
Diana’s first love is jewelry design. She is at work developing an online website store to feature her jewelry designs. But not to worry, handbags will be there too. “It all comes with time and hard work!” she says.
“I am devoted to my design work. I think when you’re a natural born artist you can never truly stop creating. Creating is in my every day.”
photos: Rachel Ellner