We’re delighted to be included Great British Brands 2018, the definitive list of 150 luxury British brands. This feature was originally published on 09.12.17 at www.countryandtownhouse.co.uk/great-british-brands
When Pippa Middleton was photographed carrying a Knomo laptop bag a few years ago, it quickly sold out. Not only did it bring Knomo to the world’s attention, but for those of us who were already fans of the brand, it also confirmed that we should be pronouncing the name with a silent ‘k’.
And the name is important: a combination of ‘kno’ from ‘knowledge’ and ‘mo’ from ‘mobility’, the name Knomo sums up the brand’s whole ethos. The company was co-founded in 2004 by the current CEO, Howard Harrison. A former lawyer and banker, Harrison had noticed that a growing number of his friends and colleagues took their laptops with them wherever they went.
Yet they were toting their expensive, state-of-the-art devices in the ugly canvas carrying bags they came in.
Harrison and his co-founders saw that what was needed was a laptop bag that not only looked good and protected portable devices, but in which all those other bits and pieces necessary to modern life could be safely organised. It needed to be a bag that appealed equally to the digital nomad and the fashion-conscious urbanite helping everyone to ‘live free’, as Knomo puts it.
The six designs in Knomo’s first collection – three for men and three for women – were named after the Wombles. Not so strange when you consider that Elisabeth Beresford’s furry creations were themselves all named after exotic places around the world. And while the range has expanded to include every style of bag from backpacks to briefcases and carry on-board luggage, the purpose of each remains the same: to allow its owner to carry his or her laptop or tablet in style and comfort.
From the very beginning Knomo adopted a kaizen (Japanese for ‘change for better’) approach, updating and modifying bags according to customer feedback. Some of its products have had more than 30 design tweaks.
Every Knomo signature detail is constantly evolving, and many of the bags now include integrated portable power packs and even offer wireless charging.
Last year was a big one for the brand, opening its first shop in Fitzrovia (Studio 83 on Great Portland Street), followed by a second, flagship store in Seven Dials (The Outpost on Neal Street), as well as an outlet within Selfridges. Knomo also launched a collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum, creating a six-piece capsule collection from an original art deco print. Knomo took its kaizen approach one step further last year with a campaign on Kickstarter, an online platform which raises community funding for creative projects.
The suggestion Knomo put forward was to create the perfect 24/7 backpack by combining its signature organisation and bespoke-designed hardware with Bluetooth GPS tracking and wireless charging. Not surprisingly, Kickstarter’s global community loved the idea and the result was the impressive #LiveFree Backpack, made from ultra water-repellent waxed canvas by Yorkshire-based Millerain and packed with cutting-edge technology. The ultimate companion for work, travel and play.