Whenever I can, I like to buy products made right here in the U.S.A.. I have found several companies that I keep going back to, two of which are based in San Francisco – Waterfield and Rickshaw Bagworks. Coincidence? I doubt it. I think one successful entrepreneurial spirit inspires another. Quality demands quality competition. Both companies believe strongly that producing on a small scale produces uncommon quality. Both companies believe in using quality materials, like high-grade waxed canvas and heavy-duty YKK zippers. Now, Rickshaw and Waterfield may both produce quality bags and accessories, but they do not exactly vie for the same target demographic.
According to Rickshaw’s own website, Rickshaw is “Inspired by the creative energy of our city, urban cycling and an intense desire to make great products.” Their products have a definite urban-trendy flair. Rickshaw is all about creating the perfect bag for you. Everything is customizable – even the stitch color of the logo.
Using materials like cordura and waterproof X-pac sailcloth, Rickshaw leans toward the 20-something, 30-something, and 40-something-but-I-still-feel-20-something crowd. Colors are bright, patterns are modern; Rickshaw is fresh. In fact, their motto is “Fresh bags made daily.” They’ll even Tweet you a photo of your bag when they ship it out.
You can visit the Rickshaw factory store in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood. I recommend it. I’ve been. It truly is neat to see where your bags are made and to be able to watch the process.
Also in San Francsico is Waterfield Bags.
Where Rickshaw is colorful, Waterfield is subdued. Where Rickshaw is codura nylon and velcro, Waterfield is leather and ballistic nylon.
Waterfield appeals more to those in their 30s, 40s and 50s who have a little more stability and more of a tendency toward refined cool. What do I mean by that? More subdued colors, a variety of materials, including leather. You can still find some quite colorful accents on their bags, but Waterfield trends towards the neutral browns and blacks.
Waterfield also believes in the personal touch; but, instead of Tweeting you when they ship your order, you’re more likely to find a personal note on your packing slip.
Which company do I like better?
There is no “better” in this. I love products from both companies. i constantly check both websites. I feel very comfortable recommending both companies.
There is something in the water in San Francisco encouraging small American companies to produce quality American products in small batches. You probably can find anything you need in San Francisco.