#1 - When we (by which I mean me of course) want something new, we really really want it. Wanting something generally has little or nothing to do with needing it.
#2 - There's little incentive for manufacturers to strive for durable products because it means we won't need to buy their products as often. In the rare case that someone does make an awesome and durable product, it makes it harder and harder to justify the "wants" portion of #1.
I think Timbuk2 makes awesome bags. I've had my trusty laptop/work bag for 4 years and other than the velcro needing to be cleaned, it looks brand new. New... as in: there's no reason what-so-ever for me to even think about purchasing a new one.
Still looks just like this picture from the REI website:
Except for the neglected velcro area:
I'm serious about the designing your own bag part. It's a fun interface to play with: CLICK HERE.
Below is the one I designed a few weeks ago (I'm told the available fabrics change every few months).
I designed it myself
Quality product (I know this first hand)
Made is USA
Ships in 2-4 business days!
It's $200! (I picked a lot of upgraded features, you can get a custom bag for much less)
I already have a functionally similar bag :(
The customizable bag options don't include one with a back passthrough for rollie-bag luggage handle and I use that feature all the time when traveling for work
It's still $200. (audible sigh)
Instead of being seduced by my lovely dream bag, I went to the fabric store and picked up similar fabrics and reflective piping ($9.92 with tax). I also used a zipper from my stash and ironed interfacing to the back of the fabric because that houndstooth-ish fabric was clearly going to fray.
I started by sewing 3 panels together based on the width of the current front of the bag, then used a rotary cutter to cut across the width of the panel to add a zipper from my stash (that is my one complaint about my current bag, there's no external zipper pocket for my phone/wallet/boarding pass)
I just traced the curves of the existing front panel of the bag with a marker (too lazy to make a pattern).
And that velcro cleaned right up with the narrow end of a hair comb!