Good for Life - Millican's Maverick Collection
The next stop in our Looks Good Does Good series is the Lake District, where husband and wife team Nicky and Jorrit run a small company named Millican. Inspired by self-styled Professor of Adventure, Millican Dalton, they create a range of canvas bags and packs with a real focus on sustainability and durability. Each pack that they make is named after a local hero that they admire, and each comes with their Good for Life guarantee.
We caught up with Co-Founder Jorrit to find out more about Millican’s commitment to sustainability, their inspiration, and what’s coming next for the brand.
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourselves, and how you came to be making bags.
We travelled our way to the Lake District in a very roundabout way, settling in Keswick 16 years ago. Nicky and I followed our passion and travelled around the world independently for a few years. We met early on in this journey and ended up marrying, starting a family and working various career jobs before we packed it all in and moved to the Lake District.
Bags are the ultimate symbol of freedom for me – choosing the right bag is all you need to get out there and enjoy the open road. When we started Millican in 2008, I was struck by the lack of functional travel and outdoor bags made with sustainable materials at their core, so we set out to change that and Millican was born.
“The more we learn about sustainability, the more we realise that sustainability is both an ongoing process and never complete.”
Jorrit, Co-Founder of Millican
Who was Millican Dalton and why did you choose to name your brand after him?
Millican Dalton, self-styled Professor of Adventure, was a local legend who lived in a cave in Borrowdale Valley for most of his life in the early 1900s. He was one of the early cycle-campers, a rock climber and mountain guide, with a maverick approach to life. With his strong sustainable values, he offered the perfect local inspiration for the brand we had in mind. He continues to inspire us to this day.
Can you introduce your favourite piece in the Maverick collection and tell us a bit more about the story behind it?
My personal favourite Maverick piece is Fraser the Rucksack – we just launched the 25L version this autumn, a super-simple daypack made from only a few panels of our exclusive Bionic ® Canvas, yet hiding all the functionality you need for either a day out in the hills, hand luggage on a trip away, or a day in the urban jungle.
We’ve always named our bags after friends – Rob Fraser is a great inspiration to many, combining adventure, creativity and energy in his daily life. An adventure travel guide, gifted photographer and always searching for the human story behind the landscape, Rob’s approach to life is captured by Fraser the Rucksack.
Who or what inspires your creations?
As a brand, we combine classic shapes, modern functionality with sustainable innovation. We’re inspired by classic, simple design solutions and search out the elements that have worked through the decades.
Our own extensive travel experiences, combined with our growing community of Millican friends, helps us get the core functionality right for the modern traveller. You often don’t need as much as you think for your daily travels, so our bag designs focus on carrying the core essentials – your silent companion on the road.
Improving sustainability at every opportunity we see as a given in modern business. Being surrounded by nature, we’re inspired every day to make conscious choices to help make a difference to both planet and people. By choosing bags as our main product, we look to inspire our growing community to travel, connect with the outdoors and look after what they find on their travels.
How does being based in the Lake District shape what you create?
The Lake District has an amazing draw, attracting many active, adventurous spirits – our growing team is a great example of how passion for a location and passion for a cause can come together to create something special. Exactly what we need to grow a global brand from our rural edge.
The Millican showroom and design studio are based on a farm overlooking Skiddaw, just outside Keswick, England’s Adventure Capital. Naturally this gives us the perfect playground for testing our bags, and we only have to look up to find inspiration for our colour choices outside.
I’ve also always felt that the Lake District has something extra too – an undefined feeling of connection with the landscape, drawing you outside as part of your everyday travels. This happens to all of us in the Millican team, and helps us create our highly functional bags.
Tell us about the ‘Bionic Canvas’ you make all the bags in the Maverick collection with.
Our waxed Bionic® Canvas is 57% recycled and 30% stronger than regular canvas. By only using a few panels of this lightweight fabric for the main bag construction, we minimise seams – maximising strength and weatherproofness.
We developed this fabric with the Bionic team, sustainable fabric pioneers from the USA – their patented yarn of 38% cotton, 57% recycled polyester and 5% high-tenacity at its core, is combined with a tight, double-basket weave construction for strength. As a company, Bionic® is leading the way in cleaning up coastal, river and ocean waste for use in some of their recycled fabrics.
Your bags are ‘good for life’ – what exactly does this mean?
Our Good for Life guarantee means that we stand by our products throughout their life. If anything goes wrong, whether a manufacturing fault or something happens to the bag in use, we offer a repair service from our workshop in the Lake District.
Sustainability starts with design and material choices, and continues throughout the life of the product. If we can extend the life of our products, we prevent early replacement and the use of more natural resources. We’ve also found our customers respond very well to this local service and the extra confidence it provides.
“Sustainability starts with design and material choices, and continues throughout the life of the product. If we can extend the life of our products, we prevent early replacement and the use of more natural resources.”
You talk about ‘degrees of sustainability’. What do you mean by this?
The more we learn about sustainability, the more we realise that sustainability is both an ongoing process and never complete.
As any company, we use natural resources every day. By making conscious choices for sustainable solutions where we can, we reduce our impact on planet and people and can inspire others to do the same.
Yet, there’s always more we can do to innovate and move the sustainability dial further – on product and business practises. To help us with this, we recently employed our first sustainable fabric technologist, to work with partner brands on knowledge sharing and actively seek out suppliers who specialise in sustainable materials.
You are currently working on two other projects ‘Blank Canvas’ and ‘Crafted By’. Can you tell us a little more about these and how they came about?
Both these new projects have given us an opportunity to innovate and experiment – to be creative with design, fabrics and sustainability.
The Blank Canvas bags are made from just 2 panels of 100% recycled, waterproof polyester – every bag is made from 40 plastic bottles. Each Project is born out of a unique collaboration with people or projects who inspire creativity, action and positive change. So far, we have worked with the Do Lectures and Miscellaneous Adventures on two very different bags, allowing both parties some creative freedom to play with colour, print work and functionality.
The Crafted By collaboration projects are created with makers in the UK, celebrating the heritage, craft and skills that still exist locally. The first two projects use waxed canvas from Halley Stevensons in Dundee, Harris Tweed and veg-tanned bridle leather from Devon – in a foraging bag we developed with The Botanist Gin from Islay and a soon-to-launch, very special rucksack collaboration.
Continuing to innovate, in order to inspire people to connect with the world around them and make sustainable choices where they can, drives us every day.
Jorrit, Co-Founder of Millican
Based on a farm in the English Lake District, Millican specialise in crafting sustainable bags for the conscious traveller, the deep-thinker, and for personal journeys across the globe.