Spotted in the fashion-aggressive elevators of Condé Nast: a canvas tote that whispered utilitarian charm. Its owner said it was a recent gift from a friend in Tokyo, so we eyeballed the label and did some reconnaissance.
Bag 'n' Noun is the Osaka-based company of designer Takeshi Ozawa. Noun is an abbreviation of his fashion line, Necessary or Unnecessary. The name is perhaps a reference to Ozawa's anti-mass-manufactured approach and his affinity for daring colors. All of the pieces are handmade in Osaka, an industrial city with a wealth of family-run factories. And very little is standard issue—the bag we coveted, the Reverse Tote, is a custom canvas made of fashion-grade cotton manually woven on a 1930s loom. The fabric is so tight it requires no liner, but in a nod to the Japanese art of packaging, Ozawa exposed the yellow selvedge as a decorative element and inserted a nylon drawstring bag within a bag.
Above: The Reverse tote is available in two sizes from Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction ($170 for the smaller, $265 for the larger). The design was conceived so that not an inch of its high-grade canvas went to waste.
Above: L.L. Bean, the venerable Maine-based purveyor of practicality, lets you build your own custom boat and tote bag. The above Extra Large Natural Tote, with yellow handles, is $49.95.