Brand Profile: Joshu+Vela
A deep respect for the passage of time and the influence of history is embedded in owner/designer Noah Guy’s work for Joshu+Vela. Every element of their totes, backpacks and wallets is created by hand, from the custom-molded brass fixtures to the hand-cut leather straps, because “that’s how brands used to do it, they made the things they sold.”
A graphic designer who spent years working with denim at Levi’s, Guy brought an appreciation for quality and craftsmanship to his own line which launched in its current iteration a little over two years ago.
He says he’s inspired by vintage items that were made for a specific purpose, like old work bags for electricians or military workwear. “I find things I like from the past and update them, streamline them,” he says. The challenge for him is not to reinvent but to make it relevant, good, and worth being produced.
To that end, taking a design from concept to final product can often take months. He’s been hard at work on a new backpack style, and once he has a physical sample, he will test it thoroughly, making small adjustments along the way. His workspace, he admits, feels more like a setup from the 1930s or 40s - he uses no robotic machinery, unusual for leather, and works with a small in-house team. But working this way allows for his designs to lead the manufacturing, rather than the other way around. “If I want to change a strap or have a sudden idea, I can make the changes pretty quickly and see how it feels.”
The time and effort put into his bags quite literally shows. The vegetal tanned leather he uses is a creamy tan that gradually darkens and deepens in color, sometimes even approaching a rich chocolate. “It’s a look you can’t buy, you can only earn it with use, love and time.”
Available now through @Wantful.