News & Blogs Hobo Chic From the Bindle Bros. of Brooklyn (1 Viewer)


Subverting from within
Oct 15, 2013
Bellingham, WA
Pretty goofy.


The Bindle Brothers, Josiah and Dusty, have a name that sounds like one of those banjo-plucking decidedly old-timey musical groups. With their suspenders, floppy caps and cotton work clothes, you may imagine them playing a foot-stomping rendition of “Big Rock Candy Mountain.”

Actually, though, they would rather sell the band an antiquated fashion accessory.

“We’re trying to build adventures, one stick, one bindle at a time,” Dusty likes to say, referring to the famous hobo accouterment he and his older brother make and sell in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

As their business card states, the Bindle Brothers specialize in “locally-grown, naturally-fallen, artisanal bindle bags.” In doing so, they are reviving an item not seen since the days of Steinbeck, when itinerant farmhands and rail-hopping hobos known as “bindle stiffs” made sacks to carry their meager belongings around the country.

Already, the Bindle Brothers have been featured in a glowing video profile by Business Company magazine. In the video, Josiah, who is the chief executive officer and frequent spokesman, likens the bindle to “luggage at its purest” and explains that he and Dusty are selling not a mere stick and a sack but the promise of adventure.

“You can fit any physical objects in a bindle,” Josiah said. “But bindles are really meant for your hopes and your dreams.”

Bindle Brothers bindles are not cheap. Their basic “green” model, so-named for the color of the bandanna, runs $99. The “twindle,” a double-branched bindle, is $178.90. And the deluxe model, the Teddy Roosevelt, is listed at $350.

But as Josiah points out, their products are handmade locally in Brooklyn: “There’s a lot of R and D that goes into constructing one of these gems. You can’t just tie a bandanna to the end of a stick.”

At this point the reader might be thinking, handmade bindles? Are you serious?

No, not really.

The Bindle Brothers are in fact the creation of Kemp Baldwin, a 33-year-old comedy writer and director. He cast two local performers, Ben Kronberg and Matt Klinman, to play the roles of Josiah and Dusty. He also created the video, a spoof on the reverent clips made by Fast Company, and a functional website that is equipped to take credit card numbers from anyone gullible enough to make a purchase.

As satirical characters, the Bindle Brothers take aim at several targets: rural-chic hipster fashion; heritage brands that sell high-priced proletariat workwear; the artisanal trend embodied by the Mast Brothers and other Brooklyn-based makers; and the wide-eyed, can’t-fail optimism of start-up culture.

Mr. Baldwin, who lives in Williamsburg, said that by marketing bindles to urbanites he is poking fun at a culture he himself is part of. “I’m two steps away from buying one,” he said, adding that elements of the actors’ hobo costumes are “straight from my closet.”

Like all good satire, the Bindle Brothers idea works because it skirts the edge of believability. Is an artisanal bindle all that different from the cheeseboards made from fallen trees sold at the Brooklyn Flea? Or the actual Hobo Sticks sold on Etsy by a shop called BagsOnSticks, seemingly without irony? (If it’s a joke, it’s a dry one.)

To prove the point, on a recent morning the Bindle Brothers operated a pop-up shop on the corner of Bedford Avenue and North Seventh Street in Williamsburg, a.k.a. hipster ground zero.

Mr. Baldwin had borrowed a truck from friends and draped it with an American flag. On the sidewalk he laid out an antique wooden trunk that said “Bindle Bros,” along with a bleached cow skull and bindles of varying sizes and colors.

Adjusting his Josiah costume in front of a Dunkin’ Donuts, Mr. Kronberg, 38, remarked that as a touring standup comedian he lived out of a backpack and slept on friends’ couches, “so I’m very close to riding the rails.”

“He’s a modern-day bindle stiff,” added Mr. Baldwin, who was there to coach from the sidelines.

Soon Mr. Klinman, 29, arrived and changed into his Dusty character: cotton trousers, white T-shirt, suspenders, work boots and a faded blue neckerchief. He was an enthusiastic salesman, tailoring his pitch to passers-by.

To a young guy with a backpack: “Looks like that backpack might be too big for what you’re carrying. Try a bindle.”

To a woman pushing a stroller: “A handcrafted bindle for the baby?”

To a mailman: “United States Postal Bindles.”

Many walked by without paying any regard. A few stopped to take pictures and ask questions. A man wearing a straw hat and his own neckerchief, a good candidate for a bindle, it seemed, said carrying one would send the wrong message.

“I have three job interviews today and a meeting with my lawyer,” he said. “This looks like I’m a hobo.”

And then — success!

A tech entrepreneur named Jonathan Swerdlin, who said he had financial backing from Mark Cuban (and who was once the subject of an actual Fast Company video) gamely bought a little pink bindle for one of his interns, bargaining the price down from $80 to $1.

He was followed soon after by a chef from Canarsie, who paid $20 for a full-size bindle with purple fabric that reminded him, he said, of a Ralph Lauren scarf. He could be seen later walking around Williamsburg with the bindle balanced on his shoulder.

But the chef may have the last laugh. Asked what had caught his fancy, he said, with the confidence of a trend setter: “I like that it’s different. How many people did you see today with a bindle?”
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Aug 6, 2014
Cheyenne WY
Lol a sucker born every minute.Would have been better if they had been able to hussle them for the asking price.Guess some dimwits will buy anything to be more hipster then the other guy.LOL its kind like the man bun hats.

Matt Derrick

Semi-retired traveler
Staff member
Aug 4, 2006
Austin, TX
i read the first half in disgust and disbelief, then a wave of relief hit me half way through when they admitted it was a joke. thank mechachrist.

10/10 would relief self again

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