Mismo, An Everlasting Connection Between You and Your Bag

This story originally appeared on the Gents Cafe Newsletter. You can subscribe here.

Mismo was founded in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2006 by Adam Alexander Bach & Rikke Overgaard. Right from the outset, the brand’s goal has been to design bags with a quintessentially Scandinavian approach: aesthetic longevity achieved through proven quality manufacturing, complemented by tactile materials in unique fabrics, all within timeless and shareable designs. Rikke Overgaard, co-founder and the Creative Director of Mismo, gave us an insight into the brand’s philosophy and guiding principles.

Adam Alexander Bach & Rikke Overgaard, co-founders of Mismo

Could you share with us a little about your background?

I was trained traditionally as a men’s tailor at the Danish Broadcasting Company in Denmark, where I worked in the wardrobe department. My role involved meticulous hand-stitching of costumes for various media productions, including historical costumes and tailored suits for different periods of time. This experience shaped my mindset around crafting for the human form, emphasizing the importance of materials, stitching techniques, and fabric choices. Working in wardrobe production instilled in me a deep respect for the materials I worked with, which became a cornerstone of my craftsmanship.

Additionally, my upbringing played a significant role in shaping my aesthetic sensibilities. My father, a visionary architect, instilled in me an appreciation for design, aesthetics, and poetry. He taught me to perceive and appreciate tactile qualities, recognizing the beauty in well-crafted objects. Growing up in Scandinavia, specifically Denmark, further influenced our approach. We draw inspiration from the unique Nordic color palette, which reflects the slow and hesitant light derived from the changing seasons and natural landscapes.

What initially inspired the creation of Mismo?

Adam and I form the core of Mismo, and our brand thrives on our unique synergy. We combine our resources and talents, striving for a harmonious alignment akin to a mental spirit level.

In 2006, desktop computers still dominated, while laptops were emerging as essential tools. Recognizing the growing need to carry laptops in our daily endeavors, we envisioned creating bags to safeguard these valuable assets in our active lives. Thus, we embarked on crafting a collection of everyday bags, collaborating with Storm in Copenhagen, a prestigious design shop. This collaboration opened doors to significant opportunities and curated placements in major cities.

Back then, bags for men were not deemed a significant category; rather, they were viewed as utilitarian items for transporting items from point A to point B. However, over the past two decades, the market for men’s bags has evolved significantly. What began as a simple necessity has transformed into a wide range of options, from backpacks to tote bags and larger travel bags. 

What is the meaning of your brand’s name?

The name ‘Mismo’ originates from the Spanish word meaning ‘same.’ For us, it signifies a personal connection between the user and the product. A Mismo bag becomes an extension of the individual, reflecting their unique story and lifestyle. Our goal is not to dictate but to complement the wearer’s individual style. 

In essence, Mismo is about empowering individuals to express themselves authentically through their choice of accessories. We believe that our products should adapt to the user, rather than imposing a predefined narrative.

As a brand, what core values and beliefs does Mismo embody, and how do these inform the design and production of your products?

For us, luxury is often found in patience and the freedom to choose—not being bound by external dictates but having the autonomy to pursue one’s own path. It’s about upholding integrity and staying true to oneself, irrespective of trends or fashion cycles. This ethos is central to our brand identity.

We operate under the principle of ‘companions for life,’ which has a dual meaning for us. On one hand, it refers to our commitment to creating bags that serve as reliable companions throughout life’s journeys—whether it’s for daily use, travel, work, or leisure. These are bags that people can trust and rely on, designed to seamlessly integrate into their lives without overshadowing their individuality.

On the other hand, ‘companions for life’ also extends to our partnerships and collaborations. We believe in fostering mutually beneficial relationships built on trust, respect, and support. Just as our bags are there for our customers, we are there for our suppliers and collaborators, especially during challenging times like the COVID pandemic. It’s about standing by each other and ensuring that both sides thrive.

Another core value for us is ‘aesthetic longevity.’ We strive to create designs that transcend seasonal trends and remain relevant for years to come. Our best-selling bags, some of which were designed over a decade ago, continue to resonate with customers today. This longevity is achieved through timeless designs and a focus on quality craftsmanship. We avoid chasing fleeting trends and instead prioritize durability, functionality, and versatility.

In terms of production, we place a premium on quality and craftsmanship. Each bag is meticulously crafted by skilled artisans, with attention to detail at every step of the process. We eschew mass production in favor of small-scale, artisanal manufacturing, ensuring that each bag meets our exacting standards. Quality control is paramount, with multiple checks in place to maintain consistency and excellence.

Our approach to design is rooted in universality and inclusivity. We strive to create bags that are gender-neutral and suitable for diverse lifestyles and occasions. Whether it’s a work bag, a travel bag, or an everyday tote, our aim is to offer something for everyone. We view our bags as blank canvases that users can personalize and imbue with their own stories and experiences. The same style can – depending on how it is worn – be an extremely masculine accessory when worn by a man, yet also very feminine and classy when shoulder hung on a woman. Similarly, the same style can exude funkiness when worn by a commuting youngster touring Copenhagen by bike or a sense of tradition when used by my 84-year-old mother checking in on the winter swim club.

Finally, we believe that our products should offer more than just functionality—they should provide a sense of joy, comfort, and inspiration. We aim to enrich our bags with a touch of poetry, creating objects that people truly connect with on an emotional level. Whether it’s the feel of the fabric, the colors chosen, or the design details, our goal is to evoke a sense of delight and satisfaction in our customers.

What are some of your most popular or beloved products, and what do you think makes them stand out to customers?

One of my personal all-time favorites is the M/S Haven, a spacious tote bag. The inspiration behind this bag came from my family’s vacation spot—a small island in southern Denmark called Enehøje, where our family owns the only properties on the island. Our small pilot boat takes us to the island, and the M/S Haven serves as our provisioning bag, capable of holding everything we need for our trips. It’s a true companion for life, adaptable to different needs and occasions. What I love most about it is how it reflects the essence of Mismo—it’s versatile, timeless, and not dictated by any specific use. Whether for a beach outing or a grocery run, the M/S Haven embodies the stories and experiences we cherish.

Are there any meaningful moments in the history of Mismo that you would like to share with us?

One significant moment was the initial meeting we had with our Italian supplier Limonta many years ago. It has been pivotal for the entire story of Mismo and reflects our approach to business. From the outset, we established a unique agreement based on mutual trust and creativity. We promised to pay with our curiosity, innovation, and sometimes our naivety, while they offered their expertise and guidance. This partnership allowed us to push boundaries and explore new possibilities. We challenged them with our questions and ideas, leading to the development of custom fabrics, including jacquard weavings and unique color treatments.

Despite our growing knowledge and experience, we continue to approach our collaboration with Limonta with a minimalist and innovative mindset. This partnership has been instrumental in our growth and success over the past two decades, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with them.

Among the most iconic brands with a strong legacy, what is your favorite one and why?

Actually, there are two, both from the Danish design scene of the sixties and seventies.

One is the watch company Ole Mathiesen – its designs are instantly recognizable for their simplicity and elegance. I love its second-to-none minimalistic design ideology, epitomized by the belief that a design is complete not when there’s nothing more to add, but when there’s nothing more to subtract.

Another inspiring figure is furniture designer Poul Kjærholm from the same era, who also embraced minimalistic design principles. He represented Danish functionalism, and his uncompromising approach to the choice of materials made his designs discrete luxury. Always seeking maximum quality of materials and craftsmanship, he struck a balance between mass production and artisanal craftsmanship.

Is there a book, a movie or a trip that has inspired your life or the creation of the brand?

I’m part of a network called Universal Futurist, which focuses on global megatrends shaping our world—not just fashion trends, but broader movements towards a universal approach with a focus on the strength of building communities and bridging and sharing resources, talents, and synergies in a community-building and collective progress. Being part of this network, particularly as a younger generation seeking a more sustainable future, has been incredibly inspiring.

Additionally, I am also part of the network “Regenerative leaders,” based on the ideology and book written by Laura Storm and Giles Hutchins. The regenerative outlook explores this cyclic approach to leadership and emphasizes living in harmony with nature’s cycles. It’s a significant inspirational source for our biomimicking agenda within the design of both products, organizations, and procedures.

Another fascinating read is “Aesthetic Sustainability” by Kristine Harper, which delves into the broader concept of sustainability beyond just recycled materials. It prompts us to consider how we use, maintain, and share products, encouraging us to buy consciously, use them sufficiently, and share them with others to prolong their lifespan. When filled with nourishment by great design and poetic vibes, a connection is created to the product, and from this, respect can arise, and a wish for a longer lifecycle to the product. In short: the more we connect with the goods we purchase, the more we want them long-term. Like a companion for life.

Finally, my bible of colors, MO SOL (“The Shades of Light” by Margrethe Odgaard). The Danish color designer Margrethe Odgaard has curated a collection of 276 carefully selected colors that come into their own in the delicate intensity of Nordic light. All 276 colors fall into place when viewed in a Nordic setting and Nordic light.

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