I had walked past a Bentley’s in the mall a lot. Once a week at least, for years. And yet I had never once gone in. You’d think that a bag geek like me would be in there all the time to get ideas, admire the craftsmanship, ask for a job, etc.
I finally went in. It confirmed why I had never gone in before. And won’t ever bother again.
It was all just shit.
The first thing that hits you is the smell of off-gassing vinyl. All the bags are made of the cheapest material imaginable. A Cordura look alike PVC. The seams are really tiny, likely in an effort to get as much material as possible out of a roll. The hardware (buckles, etc.) are the lowest grade available. The straps are flimsy polypropylene rather than nylon. It wouldn’t surprise me if the thread used is cotton. It could be argued that because I've been a consumer of quality bags, and make bags and such myself,for such a long time, that I have an eye for this. I guess so. But doesn’t anyone else discern the low-quality of this stuff? Doesn’t anyone else grasp that a $25 backpack, almost guaranteed to have the seams rip out, or the buckles bust in a year or two, isn’t much of a bargain in the long run? Buy cheap, buy twice. Or thrice.
I suspect that a decade or two ago, the store would have smelled of leather and employed crafts people in North America. Now they get lowest common denominator landfill waiting to happen in from China.