Ok friends, if you’re looking for the ultimate fashion-meets-function gym bag, I’ve just found it.
I stumbled upon newbie brand Persu Collection via Instagram a few weeks ago. Although there are about ten zillion companies peddling fashionable and functional activewear, very few brands have stepped into the active bag space. When brands do, the bags that result seem like an afterthought that aren’t really designed with functional details in mind. Persu immediately stood out as unusual since they only do bags.
I dug a little deeper and read about their story and their bags. Persu actually started via Kickstarter and blew past their fundraising goal in less than 2 weeks. Already a good sign! After some deliberation, I pre-ordered a Jessica bag in then-unreleased black/creamy white. After a couple weeks of impatient waiting, my new bag arrived.
The Jessica bag is a structured duffel style with polished, sophisticated styling. The body of the bag is nylon with contrasting faux leather inserts. Right away, I noticed that the nylon on this bag feels thicker and sturdier than any of my other gym bags. The hardware on the cream version is a lustrous gunmetal.
The bag is very structured thanks to piping on the sides and thick top panels. Even when empty, the bag stands up almost totally on its own, as opposed to deflating. The structure gives it a very polished look, though it does make storage a bit trickier.
The Jessica bag is a medium-sized duffel. It’s smaller than my lululemon weekend warrior bag, but just barely. It’s plenty large enough for me to pack everything I need for daily gym use. It’ll also be an excellent travel companion, though since it’s a tad small, it would be a tight squeeze to pack for a trip exclusively in this bag. But, for short trips or trips when I’m packing an additional bag, it will be perfect.
In designing this bag, the folks at Persu were absolutely meticulous about the details. The functional details of this bag are what take this bag from good to absolutely outstanding.
First off, the inner lining of the bag zips completely. So, if the inside of your bag gets funky and musty from sweaty clothes, you can just throw the liner into the wash. Why does no one else do this?? It’s brilliant.
While most duffel end pockets have elastic that can get stretched out and baggy, the Jessica bag avoids this issue by using a zip pocket on one end specifically designed with water bottles in mind. The zipper opens to accommodate a bottle or zips flat to keep the silhouette of the bag looking streamlined and clean.
The top of the bag has a bungee cord looped up that you could use for a yoga mat or just extra space to stick a jacket or towel. The loose end of the bungee cord tucks away underneath a magnetic clasp. Flanking the bungee cord, there’s a double zipper for easy, wide open access to the contents of the bag.
Most of the bags I’ve encountered lately have been woefully deficient in pockets and organization. The Jessica bag is a fresh air–pockets galore! It’s the organization queen’s dream. Both sides of the outside of the bag have a medium-large pocket. One side snaps closed via a magnet clasp, while the other has a hidden zipper. These pockets are perfect for quick but secure access. The pockets are as deep and wide as the black panels on each side you can see in the photos.
On the inside, one side has a huge mesh zip pocket. The other side has two layers of pockets: one pair of two smaller pockets for a phone and accessories, plus a larger pocket behind it. The larger pocket is large enough to fit a tablet or notebook. Adding to the thoughtful details, these pockets on this side are padded to protect whatever you’re carrying.
All the pockets are a big part of what makes this bag especially suitable for travel.
Another frustration I’ve found with my gym bag purchases is a lack of shoe bags. If you’re buying a gym bag, there’s a very good chance you’re going to be toting around a pair of shoes with you. So, it irritates me when a company sells a premium-priced gym bag and yet doesn’t include any sort of pocket or bag to segregate your dirty sneakers.
Persu definitely did not make that mistake. They include not one but two bags! One bag is a drawstring shoe bag with a divider down the middle to separate the shoes. The other bag is the same size, but has a zippered top and no divider. And if that’s still not enough for you, Persu sells extra bags separately. The bags are so generously sized that I can almost fit two pairs of my size 6.5 shoes in one bag.
Some other notable features include large metal feet to protect the bottom from damage, a luggage tag for contact information, and an inner lanyard with a clip for your keys.
The Jessica bag retails for $180. While this is definitely a luxury price point for a gym bag, it’s comparable to the price of bags sold at lululemon, Bandier, and Carbon38. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the Jessica bag is a much better value considering the quality and insane number of legitimately useful features.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m thrilled with this bag. In my opinion, this bag delivers a level of functionality that’s unmatched by any other bag I’ve found. If you’re looking for maximum function and style in a gym bag, Persu is a top contender.
The only thing they’re missing at this point is a wider array of fun colors and prints! Hopefully that will come soon as their brand grows.