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designing a backpack for grownups

December 29, 2021

designing a backpack for grownups

most backpacks look like they belong in middle school and function like they still have a lot to learn. my goal with the boxer backpack was to design for those of us who’ve graduated from basic and want so much more from a backpack. we’re adults now and life is too busy — and too short — for a backpack that doesn’t meet our needs!  

is a backpack right for you?

love the practicality of a backpack but hate what you’re finding out there? are they too juvenile? too sporty? too techy? too bulky? not professional enough? are you finding large backpacks to be a bit too much and trendy minibackpacks too useless and cutesy? then you’ve come to the right place! 

gone are the days of needing to lug multiple work bags around. one boxer backpack is enough to hold everything you need for the day and will take you from commute to work to workout with ease while keeping you organized and hands-free, all with a sophisticated city vibe.

sized just right

when hunting for a larger capacity bag within in the shortyLOVE collection, i find that most people choose between the wonder crossbody bag, the tillie tote bag and the boxer backpack. completely different styles, they each carry differently and help you to be more organized, offering instant accessibility but in different ways. the boxer is a classic backpack style with adjustable straps designed to allow you to carry a lot without putting too much pressure on your back and shoulders. 

in general, the wonder crossbody holds less than the tillie tote, and the tillie holds a less than the boxer. if you’re still not sure which is right for you, i recommend reading the reviews for each — shortyLOVE bag owners not only tell it like it is, they have great ideas for how to use our bags! 

take it all, hands-free! 

measuring 19.5" h x 12.25" l x 8.75" d, the boxer backpack — our largest bag — carries everything you need for the day, an overnight or a multi-day trip, from gym clothes and lunch to sundress and flats. i designed the boxer with thoughtful details, luxe design cues and plenty of pockets inside and out, because… well… we unashamedly love pockets and need more of them in our lives! just take a look:

easy to load

- constructed to stand up on its own even while empty to simplify loading

- top zip closure opens wide to the main compartment for easy top-loading and so you can see what’s inside

clever zippered pockets and compartments

- bottom front zip compartment is large enough for a change of shoes

- front zip compartment holds items you might need to grab quickly on a plane or on a  commute — wallet, headphones, charger, etc.  

- back pocket tucks in folders, magazines or even a tennis racquet

- two side water-bottle pockets, because you need to hydrate!

- concealed, zipped and padded laptop compartment on the back holds up to a 15 inch laptop — no laptop sleeve necessary - the padded back panel has you covered

- inner red patch pocket holds your cell phone, valuables or other small items you might want to grab quickly

- side pockets hold water bottles perfect for all day hydration 

- matching zipped, detachable pouch secures cosmetics, travel toiletries, face masks, emergency chocolate, whatever


- bonus: back clip strap attaches to handle of rolling luggage to make getting around the airport easier! 

it’s a bag for everyone 

more and more women tell me they may never carry a handbag again. the boxer backpack does everything they need it to (better than your typical handbag) while relieving the pressure their former bag put on their back, and without tying up their hands. liberating in so many ways! but while the boxer’s style is classic chic backpack, it’s also truly unisex — everybody can carry it. the boxer is not designed to be a backpack purse or a hiking backpack meant for backcountry trekking. it’s a true backpack/travel bag with both function and style. 

if you’re looking for an un-patterned, straight-forward exterior that goes with everything, choose black or navy. interested in something a bit more adventurous? go bold and graphic with our green camo or grey camo — both looks are incredibly street-smart and among our bestsellers. you’d be surprised the number of outfits you can pair with camo!

boxer owners tell me they love that they’ve finally found a softer, smarter, more organized backpack — one they feel proud to take to the office, the yoga studio or on a trip. i've found that my boxer helps me look, and actually be, more pulled together, even as my schedule pulls me in every direction. look at how much you can pack into this beauty. who knew such a practical bag could look this sleek and stylish? from commutes to cardio, the boxer makes being a grownup so much easier!

where to next? 

you can tell by its sleek, well-thought-out design that the boxer is a great commute and work bag. but it’s also much more than that. so many shortyLOVE boxer backpack owners tell me they keep their bag ready to go at a moment’s notice — so smart! they keep it pre-packed for tennis, workouts, bike rides, trips to the beach. they can literally just grab it and go without missing a beat. 

i made sure it’s the perfect laptop backpack, because i take my device almost everywhere and i need to know it’s protected and that the bag doesn’t add a ton of weight. but i’ve also been told by shortyLOVERS that the boxer is the perfect overnighter bag, weekender bag or daypack. taking flight? it’s an extremely light, roomy yet organized carry-on, travel backpack that can slide easily under a seat. new moms tell me they came to the boxer as a more stylish diaper bag. experienced moms say its easy access front pockets make it great for holding toddler toys, a change of clothes and other necessities. whatever you have planned, the boxer is always up for adventure. it’s freedom in a light, organized bag!  

wear or carry 

did you know it’s possible to design a backpack that you don’t always have to carry on your back? it’s true! because i like to have options, i designed the boxer to be a convertible backpack. you can wear it as a backpack, absolutely, but you can also take it along as a shoulder bag. the padded backpackstraps easily tuck out of the way into the back slide pocket and a webbed, nylon strap functions as a shoulder strap. convenient!

better materials  

want to know how to create a better, more grownup backpack? start with the materials that go into creating it, and make them better and more sophisticated. hardware is an important, statement-making detail, so i added sturdy, oversized metal zippers to the top of the bag, on the exterior pockets and the shoe compartment, finishing them off with stylish, waxed cotton cord pulls. 

our water-resistant nylon twill is fabricated to look and feel like the high-end italian fabrics used in big-name designer brands: durable but with a wearable, soft drape and casual aesthetic. and because one of my pet peeves is having to dig for things at the bottom of my bag, i crafted the lining using a luxurious, silky to the touch blush nylon — selected because a lighter shade interior allows you to quickly spot what you’re looking for in your boxer. this nylon backpack is an upgrade from backpacks of yore in so many ways!

made for real life

top to bottom, the body of the boxer is not just attractive but soft and plush, because you’re going to be wearing it and it should feel good! it molds itself to your body. i want it to be a joy, not a chore, to throw on your boxer and head out for the day! 

like you, i’ve tried on too many overly heavy backpacks, too many impossible to keep pristine leather backpacks and faux leatherbackpacks, too many insubstantial backpacks made of cheap, flimsy ripstop. the boxer is crafted of high-quality nylon with structured internal padding to hold the shape and add to the soft, plush, almost quilted feel. 

upkeep is another thing i insist on simplifying when it comes to maintaining a stylish backpack. no matter which shortyLOVE bag you’re eyeing, just know that every bag in the collection was designed to be sensible — not babied. i created the boxer to be comfortably worn all day every day, by real people who live real lives and long for practicality combined with style. nobody wants a bag that’s impossible to keep clean — including me. keeping the boxer looking fresh and cute is easy: just spot clean with mild detergent and water, then air dry. let’s keep it simple.

i got my start designing women’s handbags at marc jacobs. from shoulder bags to crossbody bags, from tote bag to hobo bags, from satchels to backpacks, from hip belts or bucket bags to messenger bags, over the years, i learned that durability is a must when it comes to designing bags for women for use on a daily basis. most of us want to invest in something that lasts when shopping for a bag — including me. that’s why i thought it was essential to add a circular stitch detail at the pressure points for more strength where the strap meets the body of the bag. those are the spots where wear and tear happens the most when it comes to your typical backpack. happy i could finally solve that for you! 

where did the name come from?

my ultimate goal was to create a backpack that works hard, stays strong and performs under pressure while being agile and light on its toes — much like a fighter in the ring. turns out the boxer is a lightweight champ. i couldn’t get through my work week without it.

— xo sloane

sloane gibney grossberg is the founder of and sole designer for shortyLOVE. a jersey girl always and forever, she’s devoted to her husband and two children, stays close to her sisters, walks her dogs daily, falls hard for a smarter bag, and feels very fortunate to design them for a living. 
sloane got her start as senior designer for the marc jacobs collection in 2002, moving up three years later to take the creative reins of marc by marc jacobs handbags and accessories for a decade. noting an unmet demand for stylish bags that could help streamline busy days, she launched shortyLOVE in 2018.