Since 2014, Bennett Winch has become renowned for its curated line of refined, elegantly designed bags for the modern man, from briefcases to backpacks and holdalls. The celebrated maker has drawn attention not only for fine detail to craft – its bijou team has a penchant for luxe materials such as Italian leathers and solid British brass hardware, and hand-makes each item in either one of its workshops in Carlisle and London – but also for its subtle, pared-back aesthetics.
Part of the appeal of this minimalist, fuss-free look is the versatility it offers, allowing each piece to work in a variety of everyday scenarios. Take Bennett Winch’s Navy Collection, for instance, which not only draws upon a utilitarian colour that speaks of elegance, ease, functionality and propriety, all in equal measure, but also comprises bags whose functions and features span dress-codes and settings.
Notably, the cotton-canvas Backpack works equally well in a work environment (it features a padded laptop pocket) as it does for easy weekend strolls, thanks to its inconspicuous look, and detachable waterproof compartment for carrying your off-duty gear, such as workout clothes, grooming items or a spare change of footwear.
The Brief, meanwhile, has a more formal pedigree with its full-grain leather hood and handles, making it a go-to accessory to cart from the conference room to the function – but, with a detachable shoulder strap, it can also double up as a more casual bag that wouldn’t seem out of place in the airport lounge.
For sojourns abroad, there are also the Weekender (the label’s signature offering that can accommodate up to a week’s-worth of clothing); the Commuter (the ideal companion for a long weekend away); and the two-in-one S.C Holdall, whose two-piece makeup consists of a suit-carrier that wraps itself around a barrel-shaped travel bag.
Another draw of the Bennett Winch brand is that its bags are durable and hardy, and have been taken across the globe, to corners known and unfamiliar, by those who opt for the road less travelled. For its most recent shoot of the Navy Collection, the label took to the Thames in a 112-year-old rowing boat with five-time World Champion rower and Paralympic gold medallist James Fox, who spoke about his accomplished career to date.
Reflecting on the the biggest lessons learnt from being an Olympian, the 29-year-old athlete, dressed in a cable-knit jumper and double-breasted navy coat, emphasised the importance of “how to look after your body in order to allow it to keep up the grind day after day”, and also acknowledged how the small, everyday things can also have their own impact: “a fabric conditioner that makes your kit smell nice always makes those really miserable sessions just a little bit more pleasant.”
On the best parts of being an athlete, Fox said that it is “standing on top of the podium at the end of the year knowing you have achieved everything you wanted,” and claimed that relief was the overwhelming emotion when crossing the finish line in first place at Rio 2016. “I was so happy” he says, “it was all I had wanted since I was splashing about on the river as a kid.” Yet, in contrast, as is the case with most elite athletes and sportsmen, the worst part is, according to Fox, “what it takes to get there, I haven’t had a proper weekend since I was 11 years old.”
Being in an industry of astronomical, colossal highs and cutting lows, Fox also continued to advise about the importance of balance – “True excellence isn’t just winning one race but maintaining form for several years and to do that you have to enjoy it, people burn out if they don’t” – but has equally learnt never to shy away from a challenge: “Give everything a go, take every experience offered to you. It’s a brilliant way to open your eyes, become well rounded and get better at what you want to be good at!”
And when it comes to what drove him to undertake the distinctive challenge of trying to become an Olympic champion, a road less travelled and an experience few can lay claim to, Fox has a simple, even-keeled mantra: “In 2010 I fractured my spine in a car crash which almost took me out of the sport for good and in 2017 I had a reconstructive surgery on my hip… In times like that I feel it’s ok to have emotion but not be emotional; my biggest strength in getting back to full fitness and winning on the world stage again was the ability to stay logical, set small goals and stick to them.”
“I’m just a normal bloke, but making a plan and sticking to it made me an Olympian.”
Bennett Winch Navy Collection
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