“We’ve one simple mantra: ‘design, build, ride.’”
Those three simple words have guided Restrap since Nathan Hughes founded the brand back in 2010. The first products were uber-tough bike pedal straps, crafted on a single sewing machine in a back bedroom. They were made from repurposed car seatbelts that Nathan sourced himself, by visiting local scrapyards and cutting them out of old cars.
Initially, the idea was just to make enough of these salvaged ‘Restraps’ for him and his mates to charge their bikes around the Yorkshire hills. But inevitably, their premium quality and hand-built aesthetic attracted wider interest, which continued to grow. So too did Hughes’ love for cycling, which expanded into road and mountain biking, as well as bikepacking, when he completed several multi-day, two-wheeled trips touring the UK and Europe. These adventures sparked the idea of building more and more super-tough bags, luggage and bike accessories, encompassing everything from bar packs and commuter backpacks to dry bags and panniers.
As the product range increased, Hughes needed more help to meet demand and more manufacturing space to work in. So, he gathered together a collective of cycling-obsessed designers and creatives and sourced a workshop in Leeds, filling it with top-notch tooling and machinery. Today Restrap has become a close-knit team of machinists, designers, family and friends. In the brand’s own words: “We’re a team of outdoor enthusiasts. When we’re not sewing, we’re out and about putting our products through rigorous testing, getting ourselves and our stuff as wet, muddy and well-used as possible.”
They’re also fiercely proud of their Yorkshire roots, which is why Hughes is passionate about ensuring all Restrap products continue to be made by hand, in the UK, using sustainable materials and local labour. Some 70% of their materials are sourced from British businesses, including webbing from the oldest webbing manufacturer in the world, super hardwearing metal components and precision magnetic closures. This close relationship all the way down the supply chain ensures unsurpassed quality control. In Hughes’ words, not only do you get the best materials, it also saves the hassle of dealing with an overseas supplier – if something needs discussing, you pop down the road for a cuppa rather than booking a flight to the Far East.
But it’s the people who actually build Restrap products that have been the secret to their success. Since the workshop is full of bike nuts, most of their designs are born from experience in the saddle, which also means that the people operating the sewing machines know exactly how those frame bags and dry bags should perform in the outdoors. It’s a productive, creative environment that means when you hold a Restrap product, you know it’s been designed and built to be 100% fit for purpose. The in-house word for this approach is ‘overkill’. It means that every single product has been sketched, prototyped, created, adjusted and tested until the brand has an end result that the whole team is happy with. It’s a process of innovation and iterative improvement – not a case of just reproducing what is already available.
This might all sound pretty intense. However, although Restrap take their craft seriously, they know how to have fun too. Mostly, that happens on two wheels, whether it’s cruising down country lanes on the way home from work or heading off for the weekend on a bikepacking microadventure. And though the brand’s kit can handle gruelling tours and tough conditions on road or trail, increasingly they’re building bags and accessories for everyday life too, whether you’re on two wheels or not. From their commuter-friendly backpacks and messenger bags to laptop sleeves and wallets, Restrap have got a solution. “If you want to carry stuff, then we’ll make something for you”, is Hughes’ simple, matter-of-fact way of putting it. With the passion and attention to detail that this Yorkshire brand put into every single product, we can’t imagine why you’d look anywhere else.
In fact, the brand are so confident in the quality of their products, and so proud of everything they build, that every bit of Restrap kit which comes out of the workshop is accompanied by a handmade card, personally signed by the machinist who made it. It’s a final flourish that sums up the Restrap ethos, and one that is increasingly rare in a world of global supply chains and outsourced production. But it’s good to know that in Yorkshire, they’re still doing things proper.
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