Creating bags for a wholesome market

Whole Foods Market may be described as a supermarket in the US, but at least in the UK, it’s anything but. Selling the ‘highest quality natural and organic products’ available, and enlisting a varied roster of artisan producers to do it, we like them; primarily because they treat their suppliers as partners – with respect, fairness and integrity. Despite being essentially ‘a multiple’, Whole Foods Market manages to retain the service levels and personality of an independent retailer, and for that they get our thumbs up.

Social responsibility and environment concerns are high on the agenda for Whole Foods, obviously. So when they asked us to make their eco-friendly ‘bags for life’, we jumped at the chance. This case study looks at the concept for their bags and the combination of services they used to make them.

Whole Foods customers are fiercely loyal and proud of their local store. It’s probably why you’d be hard pressed to walk down the high-street without spotting one of their eco-friendly shopping bags. But a bag designed well is always more than just a carrier bag. Bags for life can carry value messages about your brand and what it stands for. Whole Foods bags, for example, are often physically branded with the store area – Kensington, Piccadilly Stoke Newington etc. Perhaps there’s a particularly British fascination with where we come from – as tightly packed communities, we like to celebrate our region over another and bags can capitalise on this.

Brief & Concept

When it came to developing a concept for their eco-friendly bags for life, our designers set to work on a new design exclusively for the Piccadilly and Kensington branches. Piccadilly Circus – world famous for its glowing lights, neon signs, the Shaftesbury memorial fountain, and the Statue of Eros (arguably more famous now as the masthead for London’s Evening Standard Newspaper!)

To find iconography that encapsulated the Piccadilly store, the street scene seemed an obvious choice. WBC designer Mark Ho, cleverly replaced the well-known commercial brands we’re used to seeing illuminated, with the Whole Foods Logo itself.

The concept for the High Street Kensington tote bag on the other hand, adopted the iconic Barker’s Building Art Deco detailing throughout.

Making the bag

We over-printed an initial batch of bags for life using our 7 day UK Express Service UK, with the logo centred on to a C01- lightweight 5oz cotton shopper and another on to a C4 – a heavy weight 10oz canvas, both with 60cm padded handles (a favourite with Whole Foods customers due to their shoulder-friendly handles).

The final stage of the design has the front and back panels fully covered, right up to the edges and includes print on the gussets. The image travels around the side of the bag, onto Glasshouse Street and right up to the front.

Which Service?

Using our ‘Mix & Match’ service Whole Foods were able to place a smaller order with our UK Express service for super-fast turnaround in just 7 days, with the balance produced in India using India Economy. In doing so, they received the flexibility and price advantage of India with the speed of local production, and it tied them over till the bulk of the bags arrived. It’s a clever little service that’s great if you have a deadline to meet, plus it’s open to anyone ordering 500+ bags.

At WBC bags for life, our in-house designers can create for your brand a bag that is both iconic, collectible, and promotes your business too. But just as important as that, we can create a design that’s desirable, so that it increases demand and allows for higher margins – a bit like the Bowie tote we made for the V & A.

Whichever services you decide upon, just remember – design goes hand in hand with advertising your brand. When yours is a bag people want to be seen with – they will fly off the shelves.





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