I first met Keiichiro Nakajima at the end of an online coaching course for start-ups, MASTERED. Being online, we never met in person – still, these days, those type of details seem to be just that: details. I was in Lisbon; Kei works in NY. There was a final live event in London and I went there, but Kei couldn’t. Kei, by the way, happens to be an insanely talented fashion photographer. When you’re good enough, you develop an unique signature style, and in every Kei photographs I come across light and tenderness seem to be sine qua non conditions of existence. I later found out Kei was also passionate about the same ideas that power INA KOELLN: the role of sustainability and care for the environment in the fashion industry, as well as the identity on a piece that you can only get by working with workshops and artisans around you, locally; plus, he thought our bags were dope. We immediately bonded over our ideas of fashion and, from the start, have been imagining the possibility of working together.
As always, the opportunity presented itself without the faintest warning, at the end of 2017. There was this photoshoot opportunity at NY to showcase new models and the photographers had freedom of composition. Kei, saw the opportunity and contacted us, wanting to use our bags at the shoot. We, of course, were game. There was just a slight problem: the shoot was to happen in 72 hours. We couldn’t go – and shipping the bag wouldn’t make it get there on time.
So, this ends up being the story of how our pinatex Charles ended up being worn as all duffel bags were always meant to be worn: not neatly protected inside plastics, with nothing inside, but as a traveling companion, shuffled around and packed to the brim. Frantically, we asked around and searched for friends and acquaintances that would be going to NY and, after finding a gentle soul that would go there and wouldn’t mind taking our Charles with him, we left it in his hands (thanks, Miguel!), to be filled with clothes and chargers and a laptop and toilette items and books and off it went.
This photo is from that shoot. Our vegan, black Pinatex Charles is still there, by the way – from me to my friend Miguel to the arms of a beaming model, to Kei. It now rests at a Brooklyn living room, when it’s not traveling with him somewhere around the globe for another photoshoot. Who knows? Maybe I’ll see it again the day me and Kei end up meeting in person for the first time – still looking good and packed to the brim.