Jason Bass, Co-Founder of travel bag brand, Treason Toting Company, shows us around his Baltimore-based workroom and offices in City Garage, Under Armour’s space for local startups. We chat with the dapper new dad on everything from his early entrepreneurial spirit, to his recent travels to Japan.
First, tell us about the powerful brand name.
We were planning our next project and everyone we spoke to told us making bags was a bad idea. Making them in Baltimore and not China, bad idea. Wear hats and dress with what we call “sophisticated grit”, bad idea. So, we decided to commit treason, social treason, against those people.
What was your career path to Treason?
I have had every job from Sales Rep at a ladies tennis shoe store to Engineering Project Manager at an IT company. I have always had a passion for apparel. I started a sports apparel line at 16, then a street wear line in my mid-20’s and now Treason Toting Company.
What inspired you to create this brand?
I outgrew the street wear brand and had a passion for traveling domestically and internationally. Living in the city, you need to carry your essentials from home to café and then to work and maybe happy hour. In both situations, you need to carry your things.
What is a typical work day like?
I wake up at 5:30 am, think about my to-do lists and make a light meal with coffee while drafting emails. Then I meet up with the team at City Garage and go over production, marketing, design and sales needs. It’s a dream.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career, to date?
There are a few moments. When we made the first weekender bag, became partners with Sagamore and spotting Steph Curry wearing the Charles backpack to 2 games in a row. Crazy!
You recently came back from Japan with your team, how did that idea emerge and how has it inspired you both personally and with regard to Treason?
A few friends planned to go and hang with some mutual friends from the West Coast. Once they told me, I asked to tag along. They said yes, so I bought a ticket immediately and an Airbnb in Shibuya.
Every inch of Tokyo was inspiring. At some points in the trip, it was sensory overload in a good way. Everyone was amazingly friendly and polite. The boutiques were perfectly curated and the food was fresh and fantastically prepared. I ended up coming home ready to design, create and merchandise based on what I learned while there.
Where has and does your inspiration come from?
It comes from the city, people, food, friends, and experiences. I stay open to learning and be inspired by all.
What lies on the horizon?
Spring is releasing soon. Fall is full of all new bags and we have some fun projects with friends in the works. Those are all secret for now.
You recently became a dad! How has that affected/inspired your life/work?
My heart grew 4 sizes. My son, Valor, is an amazing gift. Every day I try to be a great father and run a business. Those are just 2 things that have to be done every day and they both deserve all your attention. The secret is keeping great people around you to support you through it all.
If you weren't working with Treason, what would your plan B/ dream job be?
Oh..plan B…probably designing furniture or outerwear.
Describe your personal style.
How do you elevate your look for events?
It depends on the occasion. Mostly tailored trousers, leather lace ups, button up shirt with some type of interesting outer layer. A jean jacket, bomber or a motorcycle jacket are always cool ways to add grit to sophistication.
Name 5 essential pieces of clothing for spring/summer.
Jean jacket, penny loafers, lace up derby’s, lightweight trousers and sunglasses - they count right?!
What items do you feel are worth splurging on?
Shoes, sunglasses and high-quality FnB (food and beverage)
Most treasured/favourite item in your wardrobe?
A raincoat I got in Japan from Kapital, a gold 5oz flask and my Levi’s.
What’s the best style advice you’ve received?
It was more like commentary. A female friend said I dressed like a dad and I was in my mid-20’s. I did something about it immediately.
You are an avid J SHOES collector for a few years now. What keeps you coming back?
I get a lot of compliments, especially on my boots. They all fit in with my style very well and they are well made.
QUICK TEN WITH J:
DRINK OF CHOICE
BEST SOUVENIR EVER FOUND
An old train token. Found while on an urban hike.
FAVOURITE CHARACTER(S) FICTIONAL OR REAL LIFE
The Butcher (Gangs of New York)
MOST USED EMOJI
WHAT DO YOU COLLECT
FAVORITE PLACE AWAY FROM HOME
Most hotel lobbies. I love them. They are designed to make you feel comfortable
BEST MEAL YOU HAVE EVER HAD
Nearly everything I ate in Italy
LAST ALBUM YOU DOWNLOADED
MOST PRIZED POSSESSION
SHOP JASON'S LOOK HERE IN US