Building Character

May 19, 2016

JV Tradeshop

Your favorite Joshu+Vela bags are comprised of it; but do you really know why natural cotton canvas ages so beautifully? This is the first edition of a three-part series that explores and explains the nature of the fabric we call natural cotton canvas.

 

Base Material & Heritage

Natural cotton canvas is such a part of our history: The age old sailors and their large duffles, the sails and awnings of the old schooners. Even the conveyor belt and baskets of old factories, the trousers and jackets of farmers, miners and workers throughout the world. We could go on, but you get it. It's been part of our journey, and treated us well. The fact is that this fabric is an emotional touchstone to the history of hard work. As the cheapest and sturdiest fabric throughout the golden age of pre-synthetics, it was used all over the world.

 

Straight Forward & Purposeful

Our mission is to make the most usable bag in the most minimal way — to supply you with the best quality material that can perform a simple purpose, and age gracefully while doing so. We also want you to really use our products, and wear them well over time. It's all about taking them out to the produce market, camping, to the beach and to the mountains. And when in the city, to help you commute and let them carry your work. We feature (and use ourselves) the natural cotton canvas because we love the elemental basic-ness of it. It’s the most base iteration of this classic fabric. It hasn't yet been dyed or treated. And because of this, it will also show the most wear and use — quickly personalizing your bag the way you personalize your denim.

 

24-oz. American Milled Canvas

For our particular products, we have sourced 24-oz. natural cotton canvas from a dedicated American mill (very hard to find in our early days). The cotton was grown, processed, wound into yarns and woven all in the U.S. This extra heavy canvas has a much tighter weave and construction than that of imports. It also costs a lot more for that matter. The difference is in the way it feels more robust and wears in showing its age, with charm. Derived from the Dutch word "doek" (meaning linen canvas), the fabric was originally used for sailors’ white trousers and outerwear — don't worry, we're on the case. It's also still utilized for traditional/classic boat sails, known for its resistance to tearing and rough wear. 

 

A Little Dirt Won't Hurt 

 We’re frequently asked about our natural canvas, and its susceptibility to dirtiness. The answer — no matter which fabric — is "yes, of course". Considering the natural canvas’ minimal processing, the absorbency is basically that much more and reflects your everyday wear. What you get though, depending on how you see things, is a fabric devoted to showcasing your unique story. Your bag will go through an awkward phase, sure, but soon after embodies the individuality of your journey. You will see this unfold over the surface of your natural canvas, as each travel, or scrape with nature, becomes a part of you.