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Essential Journal

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One Thing Done Well: The Level Collective

As solidly built as it is consciously sourced, the Winnats Roll Top Backpack is a tangible manifestation of The Level Collective’s dedication to all things ethical, sustainable and independent

Words by Will HALBERT

As it stands, Sheffieldians are pretty renowned for a certain to-the-point and down-the-line directness. Which, when you think about it, goes a long way to explaining The Level Collective’s name. About as to-the-point and down-the-line as it gets, The Level Collective is a catchy little encapsulation of exactly what the brand is all about: Balance, connection, and collaboration. 

The brand revels in its pursuit of a balanced life and its dedication to meaningful toil. Carving a niche between hard graft and restful connection, The Level Collective strives to connect with other artists, makers and creators with an equal interest in freedom and responsible production. ‘We believe that as humans; the clothing we wear, how they are made, and the brands we choose to support; are all an expression of our values and identity,’ says founder, Mark Musgrave. ‘Our money is our voting token.’

They also happen to make some pretty spectacular backpacks, their Winnats Roll Top backpack being a fine case in point. As direct and down-the-line as The Level Collective’s branding suggests, the Winnats occupies an intriguing intersection between rugged, adventure-ready wares and stylish, urban-inflected accessory. The outer shell comes in the form of a custom, rough-and-ready, waxed, organic, cotton canvas from Scotland’s one and only Halley Stevensons. Its internal padding eschews any nasty petrochemicals in favour of repurposed, wool-rich fiber from Yorkshire carpet makers. Veg-tanned, Derbyshire-made leather makes up the buckle loops, grab handle & logo patch (though vegan options are also available), while laser-cut, 316 grade, steel buckles round things off in a suitably utilitarian manner.

In truth, there’s a lot to boast about here. But The Level Collective aren’t interested in bragging rights, they’re far more focussed on offering a solid, consciously-sourced product (from clothing to tools to accessories) that will not only go the distance, but bring people closer together in the process. ‘We partner with collaborators, not suppliers,’ asserts Mark, ‘to create beautiful, functional products that are designed to be enjoyed for many years – products which gain character and beauty with age – products that wear-in, not out.’ 

In further defiance of the fast fashion paradigm, each and every Winnats Roll Top is made to order (right here in the UK), and comes with the promise of a dedicated repair service. It’s the little touches and extra miles such as these that prove that The Level Collective is more than just a catchy name; it’s both an overarching philosophy and a heartfelt and genuine statement of intent. EJ