Made: A look inside Swift Industries

Mary and Rosie reinforce the edges of bag windows and panels.

Mary and Rosie reinforce the edges of bag windows and panels.

Words: Adam Newman
Photos: Nathan Kane

Ed note: This was originally published in Issue #40. The Swift workshop has moved since these photos were taken, but the spirit and product remain the same. We still thought you might like a peek inside a handmade industry—there are quite a few bicycle products being made in the USA to get excited about!

Seattle has long been home to one of the most robust randonneuring communities in the United States. With their legendary blue jerseys and shining silver fenders, most of the riders embrace the classic French style of the sport. But when Swift Industries burst onto the bag-making scene a few years ago, things began to change.

Swift’s products echoed the classic lines of Carradice or Berthoud bags, but the eye-popping color palate was appetizing to young riders looking to stand out from the crowd. The lineup includes massive saddle bags and porteur bags, as well as traditional panniers and other small accessories.

Swift Industries Adventure Headquarters

Swift Industries Adventure Headquarters

All Swift Industries products are designed, cut, sewn, assembled and shipped from this small workshop in Seattle. While the bags were once made from waxed canvas, and more recently Cordura, its new line, dubbed Hinterland, is made from X-pac sailcloth for less weight, better water resistance and a more contemporary look.

While some items are kept in stock for immediate delivery, most are made-to-order with each panel’s color selected by the customer. Fueled by a sense of adventure (and plenty of strong coffee), cofounders Martina Brimmer and Jason Goodman walk the walk and ride the ride. They’ve toured across the country and around the world, and their products encapsulate more than a decade of refinements from a life on two wheels.

Swifties

If you’re in Seattle, drop by Swift at 562 1st Avenue South #201 (current address). Look for our review of a new Swift bag designed for Wald baskets to appear in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times.

Swift production floor.

Swift production floor.

A true hand on the cutting table.

A true hand on the cutting table.

A trademark tag meets its bag.

A trademark tag meets its bag.

Rosie about to turn these panels into a made-to-order Paloma handlebar bag.

Rosie about to turn these panels into a made-to-order Paloma handlebar bag.

Quick work made with an electric cutter.

Quick work made with an electric cutter.

Ricky uses a template to prepare fabric for cutting.

Ricky uses a template to prepare fabric for cutting.

Queue of thread that binds it all together.

Queue of thread that binds it all together.

Loki, shop dog and faithful companion dreams of future trail and food to come.

Loki, shop dog and faithful companion dreams of future trail and food to come.

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