Pan Am may not be “America’s airline to the world,” but it’s still around making their most coveted and iconic of former products – travel bags. Pan Am holds a special place in pop culture from the The Beatles’ 1964 arrival at John F. Kennedy Airport aboard a Pan Am Boeing 707-321 for their legendary appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show to the glamour of their flight attendants. Its history comes from a time when travel was a luxury and only the elite could afford to travel by air. When “getting there” was not just a means to an end, but part of the joyful experience of traveling. Carrying on this tradition are husband and wife team lead by Mary Elizabeth Barenborg. They have revitalized the Pan Am brand as a premier brand company – using Pan Am’s rich visual heritage as a platform for the luxe line of bags.
The Pan Am collection is split into several collections. My favorite, by far, is the signature collection. The signature bag is based on the travel bags that passengers used to receive with the purchase of every ticket. Since these bags are no longer “free” they’ve been upgraded and feature more design details including extra pockets, better fabrications and more styles. With access to a very well documented archive (Pan Am’s ad agency of over 55 years donated their entire archive to Duke University – consisting of over 5 million pieces of art!), the new designs remain true to Pan Am’s heritage, while offering updated performance features. Oh, and remember that Pan Am Marc Jacob’s bag from a few year’s back?? He bought these Pan Am bags and screen printed his logo on the back!
Read the full story to hear about the other collections and see more photos.
The second collection by Pan Am is based on the advertising artwork of American artist Norman Rockwell based around the motto, “Pan American was my magic carpet around the world.” This collection is limited edition with only 100 pieces of each bag produced. Each season a different Norman Rockwell ad is chosen for the theme – the newest one featuring his Hawaiian ad. All of the bags feature the art that he created for the ad – think lounging on the beach, grassy skirts and flowers in hair. The color palette is derived from the natural colors of Hawaii featuring the soft golden beige of sand with pops of coral. The favorite bag of this collection is an over-sized beach bag that comes complete with a beach mat for 2! Next season, stay tuned for an interpretation of Norman Rockwell’s ad featuring travel to Japan.
The third collection is called “Mod” and celebrates the hey day and glamour of flight attendants. A time when flight attendants were truly “modern women” – breaking boundaries of expectations and living independent lifestyles full of fun and adventure. In sleek navy and white patent – the bags are feature geometric details – from round bags, rectangular totes and piping that mimics the lines of the Pan Am logo. The bags are lined with art from Pan Am ads from the 1950’s. Another series of bags also features the same print from the lining as the outer fabrication of the bags.
The last collection is the silver 80th Anniversary collection and is a celebration of Pan Am’s longevity. The bags are silver and feature embossed logos and each of the bags are limited to 80 pieces each. My favorite part of the collection are the cuff-links made of aluminum from old jet planes – some even featuring the blue Pan Am paint.
It’s wonderful to see brands with such a rich visual history to rise from their ashes and offer new products. All of the products outlined above can be purchased online on the Pan Am website.
- Ladies Love Longchamp
- “Flight Attendants” Reception at the powerHouse Library
- Longchamp Fall 2008 Collection
- M.I.S.S. Jet Set: Samsonite Black Label & Alexander McQueen Silver Edition
- M.I.S.S. Jet Set: Fashion for Flight