City Buzz: Ethical brand launches backpack inspired by Sheffield thanks to £7K funding boost

Mark Musgrave, founder of The Level Collective, modelling his new ethical backpack which has been inpsired by his favourite spot in the Peak District; Winnats Pass.
Mark Musgrave, founder of The Level Collective, modelling his new ethical backpack which has been inpsired by his favourite spot in the Peak District; Winnats Pass.
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An environmentally-friendly fashion-lover has raised over £7,500 in just one month to make an ethical backpack - inspired by Sheffield.

Mark Musgrave founded his business, an ethical clothing label The Level Collective, three years ago in what he called ‘a side project’.

The Winnats Roll Top backpack by Mark Musgrave, founder of The Level Collective, which has been inpsired by his favourite spot in the Peak District; Winnats Pass.

The Winnats Roll Top backpack by Mark Musgrave, founder of The Level Collective, which has been inpsired by his favourite spot in the Peak District; Winnats Pass.

However, that project proved to the popular and now - with over 45,000 followers on Instagram - Mark dedicates two days a week to growing his business.

Mark said: “People seemed to like our T-shirts and tops, which I’ve now sent to over 50 different countries across the world. But, I decided that I wanted to create something which was more of a design challenge and expand our range of outdoor supplies.

“As someone who is creative and outdoorsy, it frustrated me that I couldn’t find a day pack that performed well but looked great too.

“Most backpacks seem to be either technical bags that perform well, but are plasticky and look ugly , or they are fashion bags that have decent style but lack substance for the outdoors.”

So, he decided to bring something new to the market and spent . . . . months designing a new backpack - which he has called the Winnats Roll Top after one of his favourite spot in the Peak District; Winnats Pass.

Mark, who is a graphic designer, added: “I wanted to create something made from natural fabrics that performs well against the elements, but also looks great.

“I wanted to make something from high quality ingredients so I have used Halley Stevenson’s waxed cotton from Scotland and British leather hand cut and embossed in Matlock.

“I also designed my own stainless steel buckles which have been laser cut, shaped and polished in Sheffield.”

With his idea in mind, Mark needed some help bringing it to life so he took his design to a British manufacturer, who specialise in making high performance bags for he NHS, to get some help with refining his design to create a production-ready prototype.

Over the last month, he then turned to his followers to help his raise the cash needed to produce more than just one prototype.

Initially, Mark hoped to raise £3,000, but his thousands of loyal supporters more than doubled this figure - and he now has £7,640 to make his bag. Production of the first small batch will start mid November and all orders will be dispatched by December 5, just in time for Christmas.

Mark said: “It’s been amazing to have so much support from people locally and around the world who love what I’m trying to make.”

You can now pre-order the backpack online.

You can view all of Mark’s products, including T-Shirts, sweaters and beanie hats, on the Level Collective website at thelevelcollective.com. You can also read more about the inspiration behind the business online.

Also, visit the official Instagram page at www.instagram.com/thelevelcollective site.