In The Bag - The Industry Icon Behind Your Favorite Shopping Bags

by Guest of A Guest · June 4, 2024

    Chances are you've a pile of what you deem to be "special shopping bags" tumbling out from the cabinet underneath your kitchen sink. There's that time you got Nobu takeout, that time you had to pick up some perfume at Bloomingdale's, that time you hit the gift shop after an exhibit at The Whitney. Too pretty to toss, and just about as exciting as what you had to buy to get them, you've squirreled each of these branded paper bags away - a micro-hoarder waiting for that perfect excuse to trot them out again. To secretly schlep your lunch to work, to randomly regift something to a friend, just to get something from here to there and feel far fancier while doing it...

    Chances also are, of your carefully guarded treasure trove, a decent amount of those have likely been designed and produced by just one man - Ron Raznick. 

    Since 1989 his Manhattan based business RTR Bag has been a go-to for hundreds of the city's boutiques, department stores, restaurants, museums and more looking to dream up high-quality reusable bags that catch the eyes of passersby.

    After honing his eye in the late 70s while working for Halston and later YSL, the early entrepreneur found himself at Parsons School of Design, where his penchant for packaging took off.

    "Fashion has always played a significant role in my journey, influencing my packaging design profoundly. The silhouettes, designs, and lines of clothing often serve as inspiration for well-designed bags, boxes, or entire packaging concepts. It's all about showing who you are and what you're about."

    Over the years Ron has become a legendary creative in the industry, holding the hands of clients through every step of the process, from logo creation to bag size, finishes and handle options. He's designed bags with LED lights, holograms and laser cutouts. He's reinforced a tote to be strong enough to carry a 60-pound cake. He's driven out to the Hamptons to make sure a bag's color was the perfect match to the green of a local nursery’s sign. He's even collaborated with fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld to design a special signature bag for the designer's eponymous brand. 

    As one would expect, the paper shopping bag, printed with a chic, simple graphic of Karl's recognizable silhouette, was a must-have for the stylish set. Pascal Brault, assistant to Lagerfeld, communicated the designer's joy at the partnership, writing, "What a success!! Karl is overjoyed! He is totally crazy for your shopping bag. He was also very amused by the magic box, it says you have a lot of talent."

    Of course these totable art pieces don't come for free - with per-unit prices for custom bags, inclusive of design service, can range from 40 cents to $4 depending on how creative the client gets. Though for brands like Shopbop and Moda Operandi, the luxe look is well worth the spend.

    "When it comes to packaging, it really does matter what's on the outside, so people will know what’s inside must be very special and significant."

    [Photos courtesy RTR Bag]