At a glance: Joshu + Vela is a line of ruggedly beautiful canvas and leather bags, handmade in San Francisco with a design aesthetic that’s as thoughtful and considered as its production philosophy.
Who’s behind the brand? Noah Joshu Guy grew up in a family of creatives in Berkeley, California. He worked as a designer with big name firms including Levi’s, Old Navy and Northface, but as early as 2001 he was already working on his own bags. In 2010 he took the plunge and began working full-time on his dream, designing and producing bags exactly the way he wanted, and thus Joshu + Vela was born.
What do they do? Noah and his team of just five people produce all the Joshu + Vela bags by hand, and it’s all done in-house, everything from cutting the leather to adding the metal rivets and finishing details. The designs are based on timeless classic shapes, but updated with tons of modern thoughtful details, like the laptop sleeve in the Daypack, and how the key fob is the perfect length to clip onto your belt loops and nestle in your back pants pocket, and how the Utility Tote is just the right size so that (aside from fitting perfectly over the shoulder) you can carry it from the handles without having it touch the floor. We also have to mention their blog, which is filled with tons of actual information and fun historical facts, in addition to the requisite beautiful aspirational photos, like this great article on the history of ring-spun fabric and waxed canvas.
What materials do they use? The bags are made of durable waxed canvas, some of which is sourced from organic Texan cotton, and leather, sourced as full hides from Pennsylvania that are then vegetable-tanned in Chicago before finding their way to Joshu + Vela’s workshop. The hardware is the highest grade military spec hardware, much of it custom-molded or hand-cut, and designed to last. Everything they use is sourced in the U.S. from businesses that have been around for decades and whose materials have stood the test of time.
Where are they based? Joshu + Vela has their workshop in San Francisco’s SoMa district.
Editors’ favorites from the line? We love the simple utility of the Day Pack with its water-repellant waxed canvas (especially in the Olive shade), leather grab handle on the top and double canvas on the bottom, and the built-in laptop sleeve so your machine lays flat against your back. That's the sort of thoughtful design that wins us over in a heartbeat. We also love the Boat Totes for their elegant shape and roominess, and the Leather Shoppers for their inside zippered pocket. Oh and also, is it crazy if we admit we love the solid hand-cut copper rivet details? Cause it’s things like that that really hook us.
Where can I get the goods? The best place to get the goods is undoubtedly on their website, but if you’re curious to see some of their bags in person, they are carried in tons of brick and mortar stores all across the United States, and also in Canada, England, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Check here for more information.