Thursday, November 12, 2009

Spotlight on Sponsors: Ramblin Worker, Seagull Bags, Under the Weather, Zugster

Don't forget: You can get real-time updates on sponsors and event details by becoming a fan on Facebook and following SFStreetSweep on Twitter.

The support this year's Supermarket Street Sweep has received from sponsors is truly amazing; so many awesome companies are standing behind this great event. We sincerely appreciate this support, and we hope that you folks out in the community do, too! Also keep an eye on the blog to learn about some of our other sponsors; we've got several we still plan to write about!

The prize table this year will have an assortment of bags and accessories from a variety of bag makers, both from the Bay Area and from afar. There truly should be something for everyone at this year's race. Read more on some of these great sponsors below! We'll get up some pics of their donations as soon as we can!

Born from the brain of artist Steve MacDonald, Ramblin Worker is a small line of handmade bags. As a piece of functional equipment, they work well to hold what you need held, and they do so comfortably. Each one being hand sewn means that there is a bit of personality in each bag, and that bit of life makes them all the more special. Steve is also a widely recognized artist and huge advocate of bicycles - you will recognize his work from all of the Bike Film Festivals, and the subsequent bike-art-show, Joyride. He creates embroidered paintings on gilded canvases. The work is a composed of repeated pattern, skateboard nostalgia, folk art, landscape and fantasy. Steve was kind enough to donate to our race this year and we are proud to announce him as a sponsor.

There are a lot of small bag makers these days, and simply looking at the list of sponsors for this very race should be evidence enough of that fact. How do these companies differ from one another? How are they the same? Many started with a humble motivation: to perfect the courier bag. The fact that so many different people came to this same epiphany is interesting; however, the fact that so many of them came up with distinct and different ideas of what exactly makes a courier bag perfect is even more interesting. Some chose to perfect capacity, others chose to perfect it with technological fabrics, some decided to perfect the bag by taking it back to its modest beginnings as a simple musette. Seagull Bags took their own approach as well. What makes them different is the three-ply construction and wonderful strap design. Try it - it will fit comfortably on your shoulder all day long, slinging it to your chest and back to your back a thousand times a day, opening and closing the flap a thousand times more, stuffing and unloading packages constantly. The cam-buckle strap really is a nice innovation. The floating layer of Cordura, too, makes for a stronger and more weather-tight bag. The inside is cavernous yet organized thanks to the pockets and the detachable tool pouch/hip bag. Seagull Bags remain an innovator in an overly stuffed market.

Under The Weather was started by Anaïs Fritzlan in a minuscule apartment in Amsterdam in late 2000. Relocated to Toronto in late 2001, it has expanded significantly, though remains a very personal, hands-on business. They produce all of their quality messenger bags and screen-print all of their t-shirts in a small workshop. Though they appreciate the incredibly warm reception they've received from everyone for their technical clothing designs, they continue to focus on messenger bags and accessories made from the best materials with the best construction. What makes them so appealing is their basic and minimal appearance, much like the earlier courier bags made last century. Where they stand out is in the design of their strap, which is one of a kind in the world of bag makers. The main draw here, though, is their dedication to utility and they stand behind their bags: Should any fail for any reason, they offer full repairs as well as alterations on their existing stock. In this disposable world, a bit of permanence is a nice thing. We're proud to announce Under The Weather as a sponsor for our bicycle race.

Zugster Bags is teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy, little one-man shop making custom messenger bags, one at a time, to order. It sounds modest enough, however one look at a Zugster bag will change all that - they are highly technical, well designed, and feature ultra-heavy-duty construction. The man behind the operation is a fan of portage of all sorts - from randonneur style bags to classically tailored panniers. The varieties in waxed canvas are particularly notable as they speak to our desire for the traditional in a nostalgic sort of way but have been quietly improved upon thanks to Zugster's thoughtful design. As for the messenger bags, what Zugster calls "standard" is anything but - beautiful construction for a perfectly functional bag as well as an added flair for color and pattern set these bags apart. The pockets are three dimensional, and the bag has many options as far as expansion goes. The strap system is, again, another carefully considered piece of the overall design and is engineered to fit to the body in a natural and comfortable way. You'll notice that when wearing the bag, the thing feels like a nice and warm embrace rather than a clunky thing that keeps shifting as you ride. New to the line-up is a backpack that Zugster has been perfecting for the past couple of years. With a huge capacity for hauling, an ergonomic fit, and a truly attractive overall look, it is no wonder why Zugster is not even taking orders these days! The demand has surpassed the supply, and we are lucky to have one of his beautiful creations as a prize for this year's race.

(Text courtesy of Brian Raymond.)
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