Peak Design’s Travel Duffel 35L is as simple or as powerful as you need it to be – gpgmail


A good, solid duffel bag is a mainstay for many travelers – especially those who like packing up a car for a weekend away, or frequent flyers who disdain the thought of checking a bag. Peak Design introduced its own take on the duffel bag this year, with a couple different twists on the concept. The Peak Design Travel Duffel 35L is the most fundamental of the company’s options, and it delivers a lot of packing space and support for Peak’s packing tools if you want to get real serious about space optimization.

I’m an unabashed fan of Peak Design’s Everyday camera bags, its capture clips, and basically its entire ecosystem. This is a company that you can tell things deeply about the problems it’s aiming to solve for its customers – because they’re the problems shared by the company’s founders themselves. The Travel Duffel is actually probably a bit more mainstream and less specialized than most of their offerings, but that only makes it more appealing, not less.

You’ll find the same weatherproof nylon coating this bag that Peak uses in its other packs, and it’s a very durable material that also looks great both up close and at a distance. If there’s a complaint here, it’s that the black color I prefer tends to pretty easily pick up dust, but it also wipes or washes off just as easily. The heavy-duty nylon canvas shell should also stand up to the elements well, and the zipper is the especially weather sealed kind, plus there’s a waterproof bottom liner in case you’re less than careful about where you drop your pack while en route.

The Duffel includes both hand straps and a longer padded shoulder strap, and the unique connector hardware system means you can reposition the straps in a number of ways to suit your carrying preferences. The hand straps double as shoulder straps for wearing it like a backpack ad though this is a bit tight for my larger frame, it’s still a way to quickly alleviate shoulder or hand strain for longer treks with the bag in tow. The connectors here are also super smart – there’s no moving parts, they just snap on and off the sewn-in loops placed around the bag – which means added durability and ease of use.

Plenty of pockets inside and out give you lots of divined storage options, and there’s also a security loop feature on the main zipper to make it much harder for someone to quickly yank the bag open and grab what’s inside if they’re targeting a quick theft opportunity. A dedicated ID card holder is a nice touch that tells you exactly who this is ideal for, too.

As I alluded to above, there’s also support for the rest of Peak’s packing tools. I’ve got their small camera cube in the bag width-wise in the photo below, and it should be able to fit up to three of these in this orientation easily. Peak also offers packing cubes, dop kits and more, and you can use the slide hooks provided with those with internal elastic attachment points if you want to ensure things won’t shift around. But the best part about this bag is that it has everything you need in a straightforward duffel out of the box – the rest of the packing tools are totally optional and don’t take away form its fundamental effectiveness at all.

Peak Travel Duffel 35 6

The 35L carrying capacity of this bag is just perfect for a weekend trip, or even a few days longer if you’re an economical packer. At $129.95, it’s actually very reasonable for a high-quality duffel bag, too, and definitely one of the better bargains in the Peak lineup when it comes to value for money.


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YC-backed startup Binks can ship custom-made clothing to Indian women in just three days – gpgmail


Binks is a custom clothing startup created after co-founder and CEO Aamna Khan realized how frustrating it is to find well-fitting women’s workwear in Indian cities. Currently participating in Y Combinator’s accelerator program, Binks solves the problem by using computer vision and machine learning to provide customers with clothing sewn to their measurements, shipped in just three days.

Khan says shopping online is often difficult because a standardized Indian sizing chart hasn’t been developed yet. Clothing companies use a mix of U.S. and European size charts, often resulting in inaccurate sizing (Khan tells gpgmail that the return rate for apparel ordered online in India can be as high as 30% to 40%, mostly because of fit issues). In big cities like Bangalore, where the company is based, there are a lot of tailors, but getting clothing fitted and sewn is a time-consuming process.

“The tailoring market has not moved with the times, so the experience of getting something tailored is the same as it was 10 years ago. You have to buy fabric, give your measurements to the tailor, then there are usually a couple of fittings, and all of this means physically visiting the shop,” Khan says. “It’s very tedious for Indian women who are leading a busy life but still want well-fitting clothes.”

Many Indian customers buy readymade clothes and have them altered by a tailor or accept that if they order clothing online, a lot of it will need to be returned or exchanged. Companies that figure out a better way to sell clothing to women, however, stand to profit a lot. The women’s apparel market in India is worth $30 billion already and expected to grow quickly, becoming bigger than the men’s apparel market by 2025, according to research by Avendus Capital.

In a statement to gpgmail, Adora Cheung, Binks’ Y Combinator partner, said “Indian fashion commerce looks very similar to the US today, with its high return rates and dead stock. Thanks to the inexpensive tailoring market in its backyard, India can look really different and we’re excited about that.”

Binks custom dress

To order custom clothes, customers pick a style on Binks’ site (the average price of a garment is about USD $30) and fill out a form that includes questions about their height and bra size, what brands of tops and pants fit them best and what sizes from those brands they usually wear. Customers are also prompted to upload a full-length photos of themselves taken from the front and side. Then a Binks consultant calls to discuss customizations before the order is finalized.

Binks uses computer vision to read body measurements, and combines them with the customer’s answers to customize clothing patterns. Orders are currently made by a single tailoring unit in Bangalore, but Binks’ plan is to automate patternmaking, since many tailors still draft patterns by hand, so the company can maintain a standardized process for sizing and quality control as it scales up.

Binks is run by Khan, an experienced project manager, and co-founder Raj Vardhan, a data scientist. The two spent three years working together at online payments company Simpl before leaving to found the startup. After hosting physical pop-up stores in Bangalore, the company started taking online orders in June and since then sales have doubled month over month, with 30% of customers placing a second order within the first month and a return rate of less than 1%, Khan says.

Binks takes a similar approach to RedThread, an American startup that also uses body scanning technology and algorithms to make customizing clothing more efficient. For the Indian market, Khan says Binks faces several specific challenges. For example, even though the National Institute of Fashion Technology is currently conducting a survey to create a standardized clothing chart for India, it won’t be ready for several years, so there isn’t an existing dataset of Indian women’s measurements to train Binks’ algorithms on. Brands use a mix of American and European standard sizing charts and many Indian women prefer looser clothing, making it even more difficult to accurately describe a garment’s fit online.

As more customers place order, that will help make Binks’ technology more accurate, Khan says. The next step is developing technology to streamline the tailoring process.

“We plan to make it super accurate and then at the next level scale it. We want to organize the dressmaking process in a way that has not been done using technology,” says Khan. “We want to automate it so that once a customer has selected a product, a pattern is produced and cutting is automated, so this reduces the turnaround time.”


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MIT researchers are working on AI-based knitting design software that will let anyone, even novices, make their own clothes – gpgmail


The growing popularity of 3D printing machines and companies like Thingiverse and Shapeways have given previously unimaginable powers to makers, enabling them to create everything from cosplay accessories to replacement parts. But even though 3D printing has created a new world of customized objects, most of us are still buying clothes off the rack. Now researchers at MIT are working on software that will allow anyone to customize or design their own knitwear, even if they have never picked up a ball of yarn.

A team of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), led by computer scientist Alexandre Kaspar, released two new papers describing the software today. One is about a system called InverseKnit that automatically creates patterns from photos of knitted items. The other one introduces new design software, called CADKnit, that allows people with no knitting or design experience to quickly customize templates, adjusting the size, final shape and decorative details (like the gloves shown below).

The final patterns can be used with a knitting machine, which have been available to home knitters for years, but still require a fair amount of technical knowledge in order to design patterns for.

Gloves made using CADknit

Both CADKnit and InverseKnit want to make designing and making machine-knitted garments as accessible as 3D printing is now. Once the software is commercialized, Kaspar envisions “knitting as a service” for consumers who want to order customized garments. It can also enable clothing designers to spend less time learning how to write knitwear patterns for machines and reduce waste in the prototyping and manufacturing process. Another target audience for the software are hand-knitters who want to try a new way of working with yarn.

“If you think about it like 3D printing, a lot of people have been using 3D printers or hacking 3D printers, so they are great potential users for our system, because they can do that with knitting,” says Kaspar.

One potential partner for CADKnit and InverseKnit is Kniterate, a company that makes a digital knitting machine for hobbyists, makerspaces and small businesses. Kaspar says he has been talking to Kniterate’s team about making knitwear customization more accessible.

CADKnit combines 2D images with CAD and photo-editing software to create customizable templates. It was tested with knitting newbies, who despite having little machine knitting experience were still able to create relatively complex garments, like gloves, and effects including lace motifs and color patterns.

To develop InverseKnit, researchers first created a dataset of knitting patterns with matching images that were used to train a deep neural network to generate machine knitting patterns. The team says that during InverseKnit’s testing, the system produced accurate instructions 94% of the time. There is still work to do before InverseKnit can be commercialized. For example, the machine was tested using one specific type of acrylic yarn, so it needs to be trained to work with other fibers.

“3D printing took a while before people were comfortable enough to think they could do something with it,” says Kaspar. “It will be the same thing with what we do.”


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Ethical fashion is on the rise – gpgmail


The fashion industry has historically relied on exploitative, unsustainable and unethical labor practices in order to sell clothes — but if recent trends are any indication, it won’t for much longer. Over the last several years, the industry has entered a remarkable period of upheaval, with major and small fashion brands alike ditching traditional methods of production in favor of eco-friendly and cruelty-free alternatives. It’s a welcome, long-overdue development, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Tradition fashion is unethical in almost too many ways to count. There is, of course, the monstrous toll on animal life. Every year, over one billion animals are slaughtered for their fur or pelts, usually after living their lives in horrific factory farms.

Cows, including newborn and even unborn calves, are skinned alive in order to make leather, while animals killed for their fur are executed through anal electrocution, neck-snapping, drowning and other ghastly ways in order to avoid damaging their pelts. Even wool, traditionally perceived as a more humanely-produced animal product, involves horrors on par with those at a slaughterhouse.

But animals aren’t the only ones who suffer under the traditional fashion industry. In Cambodian garment factories, which export around $5.7 billion in clothes every year, workers earning 50 cents an hour are forced to sit for 11 hours a day straight without using the restroom, according to Human Rights Watch.

Mass faintings in oppressively hot factories are common, and workers are routinely fired for getting sick or pregnant. In Bangladesh — the world’s second-largest importer of apparel behind China — a poorly-maintained garment factory collapsed in 2013, killing 1,132 people and injuring around 2,000 others. When Cambodian garment workers protested in 2014 for better working conditions, police shot and killed three of them.

Lastly, traditional fashion is killing the planet. Every year, the textile industry alone spits out 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases — more than all marine shipping vessels and international flights combined — and consumes 98 million tons of oil. Textile dyeing is the second-largest polluter of clean water, and on the whole, the apparel industry accounts for 10 percent of all greenhouse emissions worldwide. Worst of all, the clothes produced by this massive resource consumption produces clothes are rapidly discarded: In 2015, 73 percent of the total material used to make clothes ended up incinerated or landfilled, according to a study by the Ellen MacArthur foundation.

Thankfully, as big and small clothing manufacturers alike are realizing, there are plenty of ways to sell fashionable clothing and accessories that don’t destroy the environment, endanger workers, or cause suffering to animals.

Vegan clothes are becoming increasingly popular, and there’s no shortage of them to choose from. Some brands, like Keep Company and Unicorn Goods, offer an expansive generalized catalogue of vegan shirts, jackets, accessories and more. Other brands are more specialized: Unreal Fur has a beautiful line of vegan faux-fur, Ahisa, Beyond Skin and SUSI Studio all sell stylish vegan shoes, and Le Buns specializes in vegan swimwear. There are upscale vegan clothing retailers, such as Brave Gentleman, as well as more casual budget options, like The Third Estate.

Strict veganism isn’t the only way to manufacture clothing ethically. Hipsters For Sisters’ products are made entirely with recycled, upcycled, or deadstocked materials, earning the approval of PETA. Reformation utilizes a carbon-neutral production process to make its clothes (and offers customers a $100 store credit if they switch to wind energy), while Stella McCartney’s entire product line is vegetarian.

British fashion designer Stella McCartney poses prior her presentation during the men and women’s spring/summer 2019 collection fashion show in Milan, on June 18, 2018. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP) (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Many vegan clothing companies, such as In The Soulshine and Della, have found ways to sell cruelty-free clothing while also providing humane working conditions to their factories’ workers. Amanda Hearst’s Maison de Mode features a combination of Fair Trade, recycled, cruelty-free, and organic products — as well as a comprehensive labeling system to inform customers which is which.

There are plenty of small, niche companies offering ethical clothing options, but make no mistake: The transition to sustainable and ethical fashion is an industry-wide phenomenon. Well-established brands like Dr. Marten’s, Old Navy, H&M and Zara all now sell vegan clothes. Gap, Gucci, and Hugo Boss have banned fur from their stores, and three of the largest fashion conglomerates — H&M Group, Arcadia Group and Inditex — recently pledged to stop selling mohair products by 2020.

Companies are rapidly investing in new ethical alternatives to traditional clothing as well: Save The Duck’s PLUMTECH jackets feature a cruelty-free alternative to down feathers, while companies like Modern Meadow are developing new biofabricated leather made from collagen protein and other essential building blocks found in animal skin that don’t require the slaughter of any animals.

There are, of course, some holdouts. Canada Goose still traps and kills coyotes to make its fur jackets, and uses a device that’s been banned in dozens of countries for its cruelty in order to do so. As a result, its store openings regularly draw protesters.

But by and large, the trend is in the opposite direction. From up-and-coming brands to the biggest names in fashion, the industry is moving away from the destructive practices of years past and toward cleaner, ethical ways of making clothes.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, being successful in fashion has always required changing with the times — and in 2019, basing an industry on labor abuse, destruction of the environment and animal torture to make their products is no longer a sustainable business model.


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