Revolver sat down with Mark of Topo Designs to discuss his creations, his inspirations and more!
Where and when did TOPO start?
We started Topo 4 years ago on a ski day at Winter Park Ski Area. We'd be talking about bags and apparel for a while and something about that powder day helped it all click and we started getting formal about it. Of course incorporating was just the start, then it was getting sewing machines ordered, prototype after prototype and on it goes.
Why the name?
Our aesthetic is strongly rooted in the West and, beyond that, in the idea of just getting outdoors and exploring. Topo references a topographic map which coupled with a compass can pretty much take you anywhere. Our logo might make a little more sense now if you look at it as a folded topo map.
Tell us more about your influences in the line?
We all grew up in hiking, camping, fishing, skiing - generally just outdoor families. So we've been using and looking at gear for a long time. Living on the edge of the Rockies and in the West most of our lives we've really been influenced by those activities and just mountain culture in general.
Could you walks us through your manufacturing and design process?
Sure. We start with a lot of talking. It's a pretty collaborative process between the three of us. We all have our different "tweaks" that get us excited so we sort of push and pull until we get a direction to go in. After that, Jedd will create a prototype bag and we'll have another round of looking at it, talking about what works and what doesn't. Then we'll share the bag for a while using daily to get a better handle on if the things we thought worked actually do and so forth. Throughout this process we'll go through a few rounds of prototypes depending on how it goes and how many times I can talk Jedd into re-sewing the same bag. After we've got one we're happy with, we work with our sewing team to come up with yet another prototype and once we agree on that, we're set to go into production.
Any new items and or directions we should be on the look out for?
We're pretty excited about a few things coming down the line - keep an eye out for a Sling bag, and a smaller unique bag we call the Wrap and we've been experimenting with a Tote as well. Beyond that, we've got our sites set on some apparel too, but, we're taking it one day at a time.
Why the yellow interiors? We love them, but curious why?
I'm glad you asked! The answer is pretty simple - it's easier to find objects against a light background. We noticed digging in backpacks that sometimes smaller objects get "lost" in the bottom, the bright yellow makes things really stand out. And, beyond that, the lining adds a really nice smooth interior contrasting with the tough durable Cordura exterior.