It all started with The New Shopping Bag. 

Susan created the first design and prototype in the year 2000, after studying at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. Her mission was to replace the single-use plastic bag and reduce the waste involved with its use. Taking the classic shape of the plastic bag as a starting point, Susan made it even more functional by making the side creases deeper, therefore adding volume.

The New Shopping Bag prototypes Susan made in 2000. The design as it is today is still the same as the burgundy shopping bag in the left corner.

In the local kite store, she discovered the advantages of ripstop nylon. Strong yet thin, lightweight, with an almost paper-thin touch and available in many colours. She added her infamous and iconic ‘Flash’; a diagonal stripe directing positively upward, to be able to add a contrasting colour to her design. The Flash has appeared on every bag design since.

The Brand

In the first couple of years, Susan sewed hundreds of bags herself at her studio in Rotterdam, after which she was joined by her husband Vincent. Together they developed The New Shopping Bag. It was an instant hit with friends, family and pop-up stores. The bag attracted attention from the press and the interest of boutiques all over the world, including Paul Smith in the UK and Japan’s United Arrows. What started as a small-scale personal art project slowly grew into a more sustainable brand: the SUSAN BIJL family business was born.

Twelve years later, the collection started to expand. For each new design we look for products we really want to use ourselves on a daily basis. SUSAN BIJL believes in long-lasting products: quality over quantity. Everything is done with a strong love for minimalistic and functional design, from the first sketch to the last stitch. With this intention, new items were introduced over the years, such as The New Pouch, The New Backpack, The New Bum Bag and The New Raincoat.

The Future

Twenty-five collections, three kids, one dog and two Rotterdam stores later, SUSAN BIJL continues to creatively expand. With an emphasis on community we collaborate with artists and institutions that inspire us. This includes Boijmans Van Beuningen, HAY, the city of Rotterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam and a series of fantastic Dutch designers like 75B, Experimental Jetset, Bertjan Pot, Michiel Schuurman, Ellie Uyttenbroek, Dufarge and Koen Taselaar. 

SUSAN BIJL is utterly proud to attract a worldwide audience. The enthusiasm and loyalty of our customers helped spread The New Shopping Bag – in more than 600 variations – from Scandinavia to Australia.