vintage french chic ~~ porteen gear convertible camera bag

For my fellow female photography enthusiasts…take note!  I am happy to acquaint you further with the Porteen Gear brand.  I first mentioned Porteen Gear in a post a couple of weeks back when sharing about Robyn’s  (owner/designer of Porteen Gear) fabulous tote bag special.  I would like to think somebody out there listened to me and took advantage of such a great deal.  If not, no worries–I certainly did.  Before I reveal my new and stylish acquisitions, let me regale you with a little story.

There is a wonderful vacation on my horizon for next summer.  And like a madwoman I have been frantically “planning” my trip despite my many months wait.  Planning is half the fun, right?  Well, in   “the thinking things through” department, I realized something had to be done about my current lack of proper carrying and storage for my new(ish) camera.  I bought the camera last summer.  It is a step up for me in the camera world…it has interchangeable lenses,  removable flash, battery pack, strap, etc.–not just a point and shoot.  To carry it along requires thought and planning with my current bags–none of which are camera bags.  In thinking about my future vacation, I know I will want to take everything with me related to my camera but I am loath to carry both a camera bag and a handbag.  Thus my quest started to find something that could do the job of both–and still look cute.  Tough find.

I started with regular Google searches.  Here and there I would find an “OK” hit but nothing was really speaking to me.  Then I moved my searches over to Etsy–might as well find something handmade and support a cottage industry.  And that is when I found Porteen Gear.

Looking through her store was a complete joy and not a little intoxicating due to her use of amazing fabrics in her bags.  I noticed she offered a “design your own” feature on her website and that sounded very appealing.  Online reviews from Porteen Gear bag owners were very encouraging.  Her Etsy feedback was practically flawless (I didn’t see one bad review but I didn’t read through all of them–there are over 1500) And then I noticed she operated out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, a scant 30+ miles from my home.  Reality check:

I. COULD. GO. THERE.

Within a day, through Etsy convos, we agreed on a time for me to come and design my bag.

You can not imagine my sheer joy.

Robyn was so sweet and helpful (and patient) through the process.  First, I decided on the bag style (convertible camera bag), and then I had to pick my fabric and leathers.  I thought I had already chosen my fabric before arriving thanks to seeing a beautiful medallion print on her website.  But after I was in the studio, my eye kept being drawn to a gorgeous elephant toile.  Yes, elephants.  The more I thought about using this fabric the more I liked it.  Elephants are nomadic creatures–travelers if you will.  This bag will be made for traveling…perfect sense.  Then Robyn mentioned that proceeds from the sale of this particular fabric will go to support the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.  DONE!

Fabric was chosen…now for the leather.  I had it in my head to go two-toned on the leather.  Black and cognac were in my noggin.  But I couldn’t find just the right color brown to work with the fabric.  I found a great distressed black leather that looked perfect against the toile.  Since the cognac idea wasn’t working I switched to distressed red for that “pop” of color.  Cognac/brown leather strap was chosen with antique brass hardware.  On the back of the bag Robyn uses waxed canvas and she helped me pick out a great complimentary color.  Choices were made and now all I had to do was wait…for two weeks.  Oh the anguish.  When my trial wait was over, I was able to pick up THIS!:

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Isn’t she darling?  And those elephants!  So sweet.  Inside I can have the camera pouch:

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Or not:

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And because I can choose to carry it either way, I have been using the bag as a regular handbag and I love it!

Since my timing with all of this coincided with Robyn’s tote bag sale, I commissioned her to make this:

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A matching carry-on!  Perfect.

VINTAGE = Distressed leather and antique hardware.

FRENCH = Toile fabric.

CHIC = Because it is AND I helped support a worthy cause.

If you are a photographer looking for a unique camera bag or you are just a savvy traveler looking for chic and function in a handbag, I can happily recommend Porteen Gear.*

Bon voyage!

~~Heather~~

*Her other products include laptop bags, camera straps, camera pouches, and messenger bags.

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18 thoughts on “vintage french chic ~~ porteen gear convertible camera bag

  1. That’s a wonderful find. I adore Elephants, and love that profits go to support a santuary for them!! I love it. I have never seen anElephant Toile before:-)) this makes me smile! Thank you for sharing this great site.

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    • I love them too! And this elephant toile was a first for me too. I am very happy with the end product–it is a great bag and just enough eclectic to make me happy. : )

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    • I just emailed Robyn and she will sell her bags without the camera insert at a reduced price. I forgot to mention in my post that by March, she will have a bag builder tool on her website so you can “make” your bag and see how it looks before you buy. And I know she does ship internationally! : )

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      • Had a good visit in her shop … some fantastic products, have to have a good think about it – what I want and what I need is a really big difference. *smile
        Wish you a great week.
        By the way – planning a visit to Chicago in September next year.

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  2. I’m sure when you board the plane for your trip that you will get a lot of compliments on your two bags. Now you have to think about coordinating your travel outfit. 🙂

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  3. I’m thinking about ordering the same bag, but was curious about the padding and protection this bag offers vs. a traditional camera bag. Do you mind letting me know what you think, especially since you’ve had a little more time with it. Thanks! And love your fabric choices. 🙂

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    • Emily, I can’t compare it to other camera bags as far as padding goes. I knew I needed a camera bag but I wanted one that doubled as a handbag–something cute! I feel the padding is very adequate. The camera “pouch” is removable too so you can use the entire bag just as a handbag. The pouch itself has a movable divider so you can section it off as you want: camera, lens; camera, flash, battery pack; etc. If you read through more reviews on her Etsy site, you will see many happy photographers. Another plus, Robyn is a photographer too—her needs and knowledge went into the design. I hope that helps! I LOVE mine.

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