Kurt Boone - www.kurtboonebooks.com
Photos by Albert Yee
R.E.Load Bags was one of the early companies to make custom professional messenger bags and pioneered complex appliqué courier bag graphics. When Roland and his partner Elle Lum started R.E.Load Bags back in 1997 messenger bags had largely yet to leap into popular culture, remaining primarily in the hands of working couriers and a small but growing number of urban cyclists. Today messenger bags are part of the culture, from street fashion to the runway and are sold by all number of makers large and small. Indeed messenger bags sales have exploded around the world and I wanted to see what the history of R.E.Load Bags meant to the courier bag business and cross-over into pop culture.
ON ENTERING COURIER WORK
“I grew up in New York and worked at Toga Bikes, actually in high school. I moved to Philly and worked at Bike Lane here. I had been working at bike shops through high school and college. Graduated college and kind of got tired of working in shops, so I just started messengering. I met Elle and she moved to Philadelphia and started doing messenger work, so I kind of slid in with that.”
ON THE START OF R.E.LOAD
“I had a bag that I got at Canal Jeans in high school. It didn’t have any waterproof lining, it was very simple, I got it for 20 bucks. But the Velcro was kind of coming off and wasn’t waterproof. When I started working as a messenger I wanted to get something different and I had met Elle and I knew she knew how to sew and so I asked her could we maybe pick up some stuff here and there and fix up the bag a little bit. We started to look at stuff and we just decided to try and make our own bags, just for ourselves.