Lexdray is all about functionality and style. The New York based brand has been overcoming the strict boundaries of accessories design ever since it was first established, in 2009. Alex Drayer, founder and head of design, had a consistent background in the sports and retail industries, but he was not quite satisfied with what the market had to offer. To create a different, functional, minimalist and stylish product swiftly but steadily became the brand’s prime objective. We sat down with Alex to talk about Lexdray’s foundation, their design and production process and the future of accessories among other topics. Read below.
Please share with us some insight about the founding of Lexdray.
Having traveled quite a bit in my life, I've come to appreciate the finer points of a really good bag. I've long been inspired by Japanese craftsmanship and superior fabrications. I'm constantly studying bags, and I've kept close tabs on all the things I wished a handsome, modern bag could offer, but never did. In 2008 I was living in New York City, consulting for a few retail brands, sports marketing firms and private aviation companies. I was surrounded by creativity, ingenuity, and a burgeoning streetwear culture which has long been a passion of mine. All of this combined with knowledge of the retail landscape, connections to a few key boutiques and my friends in media, encouraged me to develop my own brand.
What really defines the brand, both in terms of branding and product?
Our products and our brand aesthetic are intended to go hand in hand. Both are designed to push the boundaries between utility and style. Both are purposely clean and understated, yet fully functional. And both are unique mix of street, design and technical elements that complement a diverse range of lifestyles.
What can you tell us about your design and production process?
Process is an appropriate word here. Trying to merge function and fashion isn't always that easy. For our bags, we start with an idea for the exterior shell. I sit with one of my artists and we draw our ideas out on paper. Once we have a firm visualization of what the exterior will look like, we create multiple views of the bag using Adobe Illustrator. Once the exterior views are complete, we go to work on the interior views.
With total functionality in mind, we think about exactly what the user is going to want to carry in their bag. We create dimensions of every pocket based on what we envision that pocket being used for. We fleece line slots and pockets where we feel the user is going to store something valuable, we add padding in sections where the user might need more protection, etc. When we launched the original collection that was pretty tedious. I recall providing 20+ page tech packs to my factory. Everything is easier now that we can reference specific parts of current bags from our line.
The production process has gotten more simplified as well over the past 5 years since we launched our original line. We make all of our bags in limited runs, usually between 300-1000 units per style. All of our products are numbered on the interior to offer customers a sense of exclusivity. We produce our successful styles over and over, but we make changes and updates based on feedback. We change up fabrics and colors to keep things fresh. Even though each of our styles is extremely complicated, our factory has gotten more comfortable with our design aesthetic which makes things easier overall with production.
How difficult is it to keep up in terms of innovation? Regarding not only product design but also materials and more?
There are so many awesome technical fabric and material options out there that I feel we are just getting started. We have endless new ideas for bags and cases. The hurdles we face are more in terms of reaching minimums for the technical materials, finding the right retail partners, hitting the proper price points, etc.
Do you feel that your product range is a perfect fit at the moment? Meaning, are you guys developing some kind of new product concept that you might want to share about?
"Perfect" is never a term I would use. Every item we produce is constantly being improved upon for the next round of production. We don't have any new concepts to share, but we are always thinking of new ways to reach a broader audience. Whether that's collaborating on a surf board bag or designing bags for the golf industry, we're always striving to design functional products that cater towards people and their belongings. Ideally our customers feel more organized and at ease knowing they have our bags by their side.
Do you test all of your new pieces? Like an on-the-road kind of test?
We test new and current product intently. We give new samples to friends and professionals for usage and feedback.
Your latest collection includes a new set of bags and accessories all of which with city names – why that particular choice?
Every product we've released to date has been named for a city. This started when we launched our original collection. Early on we named bags for cities we had lived in, spend considerable time, or have been inspired by. A major part of our brand aesthetic revolves around travel, seeking new experiences and being on the go. City names were a natural fit.
How do you foresee the future in terms of accessories, bags and more?
I'm starting to see a shift towards products more like what we specialize in. Trends are going away from the heritage, American workwear vibe and heading in the direction of a more technical look. I notice it on the runway with all the new technical fabrics being utilized, but also with the success of brands like Public School, Off-White and Hood By Air. Our product has always held a heavy Japanese influence, and the Japanese customer has been into technical gear for years now. I think the rest of the world is just catching up...