The best ideas come when you aren’t looking for them. At least, that was the case for Joshu+Vela founder Noah Guy, who first dreamt of starting his own bag and accessories company during a beach hang in Seminyak, Bali, a few years back. Feeling inspired, he came up with a few early designs and made use of Indonesia’s organic indigo dye, which his company still incorporates today. But don’t let Joshu+Vela’s exotic origins fool you: Noah is a fan of things American-made, through and through.
“I grew up appreciating quality,” says the designer, who describes visiting Orvis and L.L.Bean frequently as a kid with his dad—and being dismayed when so much American production got shipped overseas in the nineties. His determination to bring back the high-quality nature of war-era bags from the forties and fifties led Noah to decide to handcraft everything from a 900-square-foot studio in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood—taking the skills he’d honed at Levi’s, Old Navy, and Northface and throwing himself into Joshu+Vela full-force in 2010.
Now, Joshu+Vela produces a whole range of goodness—bags of all sizes, dopp kits, wallets—but the original design ethos remains intact. “There’s a certain pride in having a nice cloth,” Noah says. “That’s basically where we started with Joshu+Vela, and that’s what we’re trying to hold true to.” —carrie neill
BEHIND THE SCENES
The puppies have survived decades.
Key to the City Noah Guy Shares the Best Places to Bike to in All of San Fran
The spots you’ve gotta hit on a pair of wheels.