The T-Rex at the entrance to the Sprayground NYC pop-up
If you're a streetwear connoisseur and Sprayground isn't on your radar, listen up.
The NYC-based brand started in 2010 when business partners David BenDavid and Eddie Shabot (who has since moved on to pursue other endeavors) saw backpacks – a vital tool in carrying spray paint for street artists – as "bland and boring" and wanted something innovative to rev excitement; in came their "Hello My Name Is" backpack. It was an instant hit and the "Money Stacks" style followed, kicking off an international expansion into Japan, the United Kingdom, Italy, Dubai, and China.
Production ramped up, the fashion world and celebrities caught on, and now the Sprayground line includes luggage, outerwear, cold weather accessories, Apple accessories, keychains, duffles, and more. On August 14th, the company launched a temporary pop-up and I had the pleasure of checking it out to see the products in person and get a better feel for the Sprayground brand.
Sprayground's NYC pop-upHansson
Nestled near the 42nd Street and Broadway intersection in Times Square, the store is a sight to behold: An enormous, stylish billboard beckons you in where a huge, bright room showcases hundreds of bags along with sculptures created by an in-house team of Sprayground artists, hats, clothing, and more. Workers bustled in typical pop-up fashion, scrambling to make sure they were running a tight ship but with the laid-back and welcoming attitude you want in a shopping experience.
Right as you enter, you'll be taken in by a towering T-rex filled to the brim with the brand's signature bear bags, tumbling down his throat and spilling out from his ribcage in cartoonish but editorial fashion. To his left is a metallic astronaut that feels almost like a Shepard Fairey and Jeff Koons collab, with a shiny appeal that grabs the eye and draws you through the various display walls.
The T-Rex at the entrance to SpraygroundHansson
A serious of leather pieces combining Louis Vuitton-esque luxury and fresh, modern design filled one front wall, and I took immediate notice of the bear backpack in that display. It had a whimsical, fairytale-gone-bad look, but was built with the sort of craftsmanship I'd expect in brands with much higher price points. That's something that took me by complete surprise: Most of these bags, even the most luxe of the crop, average around or less than $100 apiece.
A partner in the brand, James Ferrell, greeted me with a full tour, explaining several meanings behind the symbols used in various designs and the way they've evolved over 12 years of Sprayground history. I was especially taken in by the teddybears and he noted their incredible popularity while we checked out the wall featuring the current bear designs. He explained that each bag is only released in a limited run before it's retired forever, ensuring the buyer is receiving a unique piece that only a handful of people will ever own. James was kind and informative, and he made me feel at home while we browsed the goods and he explained the events to come over the next few weeks of the pop-up.
The teddybear wall at Sprayground Sprayground
Despite not being a gamer myself, the gaming chairs were an attention-grabber displayed mid-store. The Call Of Duty chair was already sold out by day two of the store's opening, but James made sure to point out other products they had related to the game that are selling quickly thanks to its massive popularity. By the looks of the website now, just two days later, their popularity continued as every model is currently sold out online.
I lingered and watched as more folks roamed into the store, each in awe of the impressive displays and quality bags hanging on every wall. Fans of the brand took selfies in the mirrors and with the sculptures, and workers brought in a constant flow of products to keep the back room stocked. The faux leather bear I'd spied earlier kept calling my name, so I weighed my options and settled on him as a new fashion companion to come home with me.
A futuristic luggage display at SpraygroundHansson
As I waited for an associate to bring my bag to the front, James let me know they have a Fashion Week event planned for early September during which the store will be totally transformed to showcase the new looks Sprayground has planned for fall before wrapping up shop for the season. With no design repeats, you can expect to see the runway filled with bold, imaginative designs in the shapes and styles collectors have come to love, as well as must-have newcomers in their apparel and accessories lines.
I hopped on the M train back to Brooklyn with my teddybear backpack in hand and sat for just a second before a stranger asked, "Hey, what's that gold tag poking out of your shopping bag? I keep seeing them all over the place today," so I gave him a peek inside and, like everyone else snatching up the goods at the Sprayground pop-up, he smiled and complimented the piece. Keep scrolling to see more of my top picks from their current line-up so you can bring home your own work of wearable Sprayground art today.
Outfit yourself in style that pays homage to the roots of the brand with this sleek white and graffiti set of luggage and bags including one of the highly sought-after bear backpacks, a handy tote, and a rolling suitcase that'll stand out in a sea of plain black carryalls like it. Save $110 off the base price when you buy the full bundle.
I came close to taking this guy home with me, alas I went with a now sold-out brown leather bear instead but can confirm they are adorable in person. And big! The inner pouches don't hold as much as you might expect, but what's sacrificed in storage is made up for with structure. Carry for an impactful statement look or display proudly to let people know you have excellent taste.
Varsity jackets are a staple but are set to make an even bigger splash this fall when emblazoned with cartoon elements like this Spongebob style that's funny, sleek, and has a sense of dark irony that shines bright even in the harsh New York winter.
Leveled Up Split Quilt Shark Wanderlust Bundle (4PCS)
Infused with a heavy dose of classic sophistication with the inventive addition of shark outline details, this bundle is perfect for a long weekend away at a festival, beach resort, or anywhere you'll need a skimpy wardrobe and want to carry it there in style.