50 Shades of Grey

by Jinryu

I ran two of my favourite bags through the washing machine the other day.  One of them is a North Face hiking hip-bag, which is big enough for me to wear as a sling bag.  I’ve been using this thing since college– meaning that this bag has been faithfully in service for about 14 years now.  The bag now look brand new– it’s the original colour again. I don’t know why I never washed it.  The only thing that’s worn out are the little elastic string ties used to hold a bottle into the holsters.  Other than that though, it looks like I just bought it.  I’ve often been dissapointed by the North Face “urban” lines of bags– that is to say, North Face branding on what are essentially schoolbags or day packs. I just find that somewhere in the late 90s, that class of bags was just all about branding without all the real durability that you’d expect from such an expensive bunch of bags.  But this hip bag has really been one of the toughest bags I’ve ever used.  After years of service with all sorts of things strapped to it, including poster tubes, gis, shoes, and badminton rackets; this same bag has circumnavigated the globe with me more than three times.   A wash has it looking like it’s a current model.  There are several pictures of me from younger days wearing this bag on various badminton courts, in school, at airports, and in foreign countries.

Similarly, there’s a Da-Kine messenger bag which I bought my sister from South Korea, which a few years later, I took back since she wasn’t using it.  Looks brand new.


Like I said– not sure why I never got around to washing these things sooner than this.  They just look way better like this.


Now, if only I could get these permanent taints out of my white gi– there’s patches from dried blood, dead skin, and dye from various coloured boxing gloves that just don’t come out no matter how much soap or javel I use.


I guess it doesn’t totally matter what they look like– having something look ragged probably potentially invokes old war stories and nostalgia.  But looking dirty probably never helped anyone, and perhaps these things deserve a bit more respect for their long service?