'Weenie' shoulder bag by Crumpler
Part of a collection of bags and promotional material relating to Crumpler, an Australian company designing, making, marketing and wholesaling a distinctive range of bags and accessories. David Roper and William Miller originally ran their own bicycle messenger business 'Minuteman Messengers' in Melbourne. In the early 1990s Stuart Crumpler joined them as a bicycle courier and started designing a bag specifically suited to the bicycle courier's task. It became so successful among bicycle couriers that Roper, Miller and Crumpler decided to set up a business designing and manufacturing bags.
This collection documents the product development and marketing of the Crumpler bag range from 1993 to 2000. It includes Crumpler's first canvas messenger bag, developed specifically for bicycle couriers, fulfilling their need for a large, strong, lightweight bag to carry and quickly access packages and letters. Through skilful design and innovative marketing the Crumpler team went on to develop a range of bags aimed at a diverse market, from bicycle couriers and enthusiasts to streetwear, to accessories for the business market. This collection includes their best selling 'Seedy Three' bag, used by bicycle couriers, bicycle enthusiasts and sold through streetwear shops. From this came a range of colourful smaller style bags including the 'Weenie' and 'Monster Truck' aimed at the streetwear market. More recent products like the laptop bag 'Wack-O-Phone' illustrate their successful move into bags for the business sector.
The collection also contains a range of advertising material documenting the company's innovative approach to promoting their product: At first it was the messenger bags distinctive and colourful image that sold them on the street but when the company realised the limits of this market they came up with a range of droll and witty marketing strategies keyed into the bicycle, rave, student and streetwear markets. Their catalogues reflect the influence of street magazines with their personalised stories, quirky graphics and irreverent text. Each Crumpler bag style comes with a distinct personality and features, reflecting the age and interests of its market. For example 'The small-size Weenie is an individual. Known for its durability and creativity under pressure, the Weenie enjoys reciting erotic haiku poetry by obscure Japanese authors in subways after the hour of 3.00am. Weenie has also been known to convince cab drivers to pay it for the priviledge of listening to its verse.' Crumpler catalogue.
This droll humour extends to the naming of each bag style including the phallic shaped camera bag 'Cucumberumba', the large size and bold colours of the 'Seedy Three', the very small 'Monster Truck' bag and the large computer bag, 'Very Busy Man'.
Early promotional campaigns included a street campaign using only the Crumpler logo to create a vibe of enquiry around the city. A stencil was made of the logo which was then sprayed on footpaths in inner city shopping areas, building site hoardings, back lane walls, bike tracks and skate bowls. They also advertised in street magazines and free music magazines, their advertising style sitting comfortably in street magazines. Crumpler also targeted the student market, (because of their need to carry around study materials) by sponsoring university and college events, parties and competitions and advertising in their magazines. For the Melbourne Fringe Festival they included their logo in the form of a flicky book in the guide. In more traditional media, the Crumpler team made a 60 second cinema advertisement which ran in art house cinemas (Nova and Kino in Melbourne).
Behind the witty repartee Crumpler's advertising also takes issue with many aspects of contemporary design including its built in obsolescence, replace not repair values, abuse of people and animals in manufacture, exclusivity of products and lack of humour. i.e. 'Crumpler bags are for acts of international peace making and piss taking.'