Sprayground’s David Ben-David on how to build a backpack brand
It’s not uncommon for lines out the door of stores on Fairfax Avenue on any given day, but kids asking for autographs from the founder of what is, for all intents and purposes, a backpack company? That’s got to say something.
As Sprayground founder and creative director David Ben-David strode up the walk to his company’s Fairfax pop-up — here through Aug. 5 — he was greeted by hearty handshakes and hugs. Once inside the store, a fan asked him to sign the inside of his backpack. Ben-David obliged.
“We’re the new revolution of accessories,” Ben-David later told WWD. “The bag [in the past] wasn’t significant; now it’s significant. It’s turning out fashion in something utilitarian.”
Growth prompted the New York-based company’s push onto the West Coast for its first pop-up here following two in New York. It’s a mind-boggling appetite — much of it crossing over with the same cohort that buys into streetwear brands — that’s driving Sprayground’s success with its limited edition backpacks and a more recently introduced line of luggage.
The brand’s in-your-face styles reflect quirky slices of pop culture that began with Ben-David’s first design riffing off the “Hello My Name Is” tags commonplace at meetings. These bags are not staid wallflowers. After “Hello My Name Is” came the “Money Stacks” bag and since then there’s been fur, polyester, leather, wings and more.
“I think the design mentality for how I launched the brand was just to always offer fresh daily and consistency in product,” Ben-David said. “It’s very important and I think that’s what separates us because we’re non-stop with the product.”
In fact, the founder created 160 different backpacks for the store. Everything is limited and nothing is produced again, creating that frenzy among consumers to buy now or forever be mired in the remorse that comes with missing out on something hot.
“Inspiration is always something you’ve got to hunt for. It’s a non-stop hunt and I think traveling helps a lot,” Ben-David said of how he’s able to continue to churn out new designs each season and particularly as the business continues to build out a full travel accessories range.
Next up, after Fairfax closes, Sprayground heads back to New York for another pop-up there, opening Aug. 19 for a six-day run at 42nd Street and 7th Avenue. Another is already in the works with the location to be determined, Ben-David said.
“The normal approach from a fashion designer’s perspective is to start out creating T-shirts,” Ben-David said. “Now, if you don’t have nice financial backing it’s hard. So, selling a T-shirt is the norm, but I didn’t really want to go the route of others. I wanted to go the path of most resistance and when I was shopping for a new bag, I just saw the generic styles, colors and patterns. The light went off and I said maybe I could express myself with this product. And that’s what I did.”