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1 Porteau bags

2 Finishing leather straps before assembly

3 Testing waterproofing processes

4 Waterproof for snowy and rainy Canadian days

5 3 colourways

Concept Ideation: Christen Oakes

Pattern Design: Abygail Berg

Materials Testing, Research + Selection: Christen Oakes

Production + Assembly: Christen Oakes, Abygail Berg


Porteau is a classic and quality tote bag with unexpected waterproof functionality.

When a local pop-up retail event placed an open call for product submissions, a colleague and I challenged ourselves to elevate a staple item of pop-up retail, the ubiquitous tote bag, above usual expectation. It was important to remain true to the functionality of the carry-all bag by keeping our product simple and refined. The integration of a hidden waterproof layer made it similar in appearance but functionally superior to the typical tote.

After exploring a range of liquids and waxes, a durable canvas face fabric and a waterproof PUL (polyurethane laminate) fabric liner were chosen. It was important that the canvas and PUL be bonded to each other, as typical adhesives were not adequately long-lasting. Prototyping revealed that applying heat to the PUL slightly melts its polyurethane coating, which then functions as an adhesive between the PUL and the canvas. The result is a two-layer fabric that is permanently waterproof, bonded, and durable.

Porteau speaks of quality through the small details, and will become even more beautiful with time and use. The canvas is durable, but will become slubbier when exposed to friction, and the leather will soften and darken the more it is touched. Porteau marries the ruggedness of a traditional carry-all tote bag with quality materials, and unexpected functionality in being waterproof.