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Mess Media
monitors, analyzes and corrects media reporting errors and bias concerning messengers and couriers.
Messenger Institute
 for Media Accuracy

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It's in the bag

San Francisco Chronicle, January 27, 2002

If you want to own the bag that bike messengers recommend, you'll have to become one of them.

Messenger Erik Zo has been producing his own line of top-quality bags for more than a decade, but the last thing he wants is to become a commercial fashion sensation

"they're not for sale," he says. "Period."

While replicates can be found everyhere from Saks to the Gap, the products real messengers use range from hard-to-find to impossible-to-find

In addition to his Zo bag, Damon Votour has a BaileyWorks bag, made by a small New Hampshire company.

On this particular Saturday, he's managed to fit a pager, cell phone, keys, several small tools, some paperwork, a paperback (Steinbeck's "In Dubious Battle"), a dictionary and a small wooden water buffalo scavenged on Powell Street.

Almost magically, the bag barely bulges.

Bags from Timbuk2 designs are probably the easiest for the public to buy, in part because the company is based in San Francisco.

While messengers [use bags] such as Timbuk 2 for their versatility and reasonable price ($55-$85), the company also caters to the fashion-conscious public with a "Build Your Bag" option that allows color coordination. (For more information, visit www.timbuk2.com.)

Zo Bags are created for Erik Zo's friends in the bike messenger industry. He doesn't take orders from strangers.

Zo makes the bags by hand and has his own custom label. The materials are top-quality, although some are obtained before they go to the dump.

"Stretch nylon," Zo says, pointing to a looming Macy's billboard on Powell Street. "The stuff they make the signs out of."

Messenger Joel Metz has a museum of bags at his apartment.

"This is my third bag, although I've never actually worn one out," Metz says, pulling open the flap on one of his Zo Bags. "Some people wear them into the ground. I'm sentimental."

Metz's current bag has patches all over it, from places the messenger has traveled and bicycle organizations he likes.

"It's something that's on you all day long, so you end up personalizing it," Metz says "It's kind of like a diary."


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