Last month we reported the news that beloved travel gear brand Eagle Creek was being shuttered by parent company VF Corporation at the end of the year. Plenty of readers of AJ and other publications cried out: No!
For years, Eagle Creek has made some of the best duffels, travel cases, and backpacks in the business. Buying a piece of luggage from Eagle Creek very likely meant many years of happy service. Well thought out products that work, over and over again. It was as if the designers spent all their time traveling and therefore were able to anticipate every need a traveler would have, no matter how small.
VF announced the closure of Eagle Creek with little explanation, other than to say to Outside Business Journal that to maintain the brand “no longer makes strategic or financial sense.” In a travel-light pandemic that may ring true. But travel gear isn’t all about getting on a plane. It’s often about a big rugged duffel you chucked in the back of a pickup or your sedan before hitting the road. About a well-designed backpack you could hike with, take to school or work, or use as an overnight bag.
Eagle Creek excelled, still does, at all of that.
The founders of the brand, Steve and Nona Barker, who sold to VF back in 2010, were not at all happy to hear of VF’s plans.
“We saw this coming, but it didn’t make the announcement any easier,” Steve told Outside Business. “We’ve had an overwhelming response from the outdoor industry. I was shocked at how many people reached out. There was a lot of empathy from people who had also grown brands in the industry. We’ve been going through a sort of grief process. We went through denial and I certainly went through my anger at moments. Then it was depression and acceptance. Now I’m just determined. What I’d like folks in the industry to know is that Eagle Creek is a great and viable brand. It has a great future and shouldn’t die.”
The Barkers have been in talks with VF about the possibility of buying Eagle Creek back. If they don’t (and Nona doesn’t think they will), the Barkers feel, another buyer will come along and do right by the brand. The couple feels strongly that there’s room for a brand that focuses on travel, outdoor rec, and conservation, pillars of Eagle Creek.
The Barkers participated in a lengthy Q/A with Kristin Hostetter of Outside Biz, which you can read here.