Glad We Asked: La Portegna Benson Bag
Looks initially drew us to La Portegna’s Benson Bag—the handsome blend of grey and brown leather, the way it maintained its rectangular shape without looking too rigid (perfect for orderly packing!)—and that’s what will eventually make us buy something like this, but when we emailed the designer, Jose Urrutia, to find out more about it, his response turned our visual love affair into one more visceral. Turns out the bag has an interesting history, taking it from modest mom and pop beginnings to overwhelming commercial success, to finally, an inconspicuous salesman who never thought the bag would one day bare his name. (The story continues after the jump)
The Benson bag was initially designed for a family run business in 1960’s Argentina and was called The Shirt Bag for its ability to neatly transport shirts. The bag became popular to the point that when the family’s second generation came into power, they reveled too much in its financial bounty, living as “bon vivants who squandered their fortunes by playing polo all day”. The company soon went bankrupt and the bag stopped being produced. A few years back Urrutia went to Argentina, tracked down an old beat up sample of the original bag (pictured to the right) and had it remade by hand at an atelier in Spain. At the time, he was working with a partner named, Diego Benson—an original salesman who once worked for the lavish Argentinean family. The new version is named after him and is a mixture of canvas and vegetable tanned leather. Sadly, he passed away earlier this year, but the bag he once sold continues to give him life.
And if that story wasn’t enough to endear you to this portage, then know this—in addition to inside there is a “secret wall” compartment to split the bag in two orderly sections.
You can purchase the bag here at amrag.com