The GBY Ultralight line was created from scratch by me, William Belk — designed, sewn, and branded in Los Angeles, CA USA. The collection is focused on ultralight essentials — ultralight products for everyday people. Opinionated, non-conforming, efficient designs for daily use. Ultralight is the natural progression of daily gear; the future.
I held onto an idea for a backpack design for a few years and I decided to do something about it. In late December of 2018 I taught myself to sew and started designing the Ultralight Laptop Day Pack. I got so excited about daily ultralight gear that the line expanded bit by bit. I designed every pattern from scratch and sewed every sample, start to finish, every stitch. I designed and coded the website from scratch. I wrote every word on the site. The first real production bag was sold in September of 2019.
Dealers click here. We can support at-once orders and seasonal wholesale orders year-round. We have production capacity to support majors.
I spent most of my childhood split between the mountains and the city — snowboarding and skateboarding, causing headaches and shooting photos, inspired by my older brothers like the JK, J Smith, Jon Kramer, and Tim Reardon from the world famous Pitcrew skate shop in MD. I was a little rat, blessed with a handful of guardian angels who looked out for me since I could fit in their pocket or the trunk of their car. The early 90s were a glorious time to be a teenager on the east coast. We still had clearly defined subcultures. We had hip hop culture coming down from NYC. We had skateboarding coming over from Cali and snowboarding from Cali and down from VT; with skateboarding gaining a lot of momentum in the DC area. We had the reverberation from the last gasps of the punk movement too. All of these countercultures taught us to see the world in a different way — so destructive, yet romantically positive and creative. There was no Instagram. There were no cell phones. Information moved slow; it was precious. Back then, we learned everything face to face, not digital. We wanted to meet up in groups to hear the latest, not to be seen. We had maps, trains, land lines, skate shops, cassettes, VHS tapes and vinyl (the first album I had was Beastie Boys - License To Ill on record in 1987). Magazines were everything.
We had lots of interesting people in every major city on the east coast. DC was particularly interesting at that time — a melting pot for the ages in many ways. It was the perfect mix of counterculture, multiculturalism, creativity, idealism, cynicism and critique — this was all before DC became one of the most stuffy cities on earth.
My long-winded prelude only serves to illustrate a bit of what made me who I am. I've always loved designing and making stuff — and the countercultures of the 80s and 90s instilled in all of us us a sense of vast adventure and the 'do it yourself' spirit, if even simply because everything was so new at that time and information was scarce and moved slow. The Internet barely existed. We tried everything creative that we could dream up back then and we did it so poorly. We drew, designed, painted, spray painted, built speakers, did installs, swapped motors, screenprinted, etc. There is something special about the process, desperation, insecurity and serendipity that comes from trying and learning new things; new methods of production or communication or design.
As my career has progressed, I've seen many people fall out of touch with the communities that were close to their heart and the things that make their face light up. Of course, at times, I have been one of these people. For me, problem solving, tinkering, asking too many questions, deconstructing and designing have stuck with me. At times, curiosity seemed like a bit of an unhealthy affliction. This feeling proved at every step to be a lack of humility, patience, faith, and positive perseverance. The doing and the learning never end — it took me forever to understand that. There is no rainbow or single enlightening event, or objectified milestone worth pursuing. The winding path of life has shown me that money, daydreaming, and slick talk don't mean much — it's all about the doing. Our uncles and elders understood something very profound. They spoke very little. Their hands were stone maps of the history of perseverance, creativity, adventure and will. They didn't talk about the means of production — they were the means of production.
Today, maybe we've forgotten so much. Life can become pretty simple if we stop looking outside. The distractions seem endless until we cultivate the confidence that our values, deep down, mean more than a dollar. Our values are forged like something alchemical and are worth pursuing — totally unique — in all their mind-expanding and stubborn limiting ways. Our core values should not be thought of as good or bad, dark or light, but just ours — they found us as much as the communities we were a part of helped instill them in us — we have to embrace them in the most positive way we can.
Distractions make us pursue strange things that we don't really believe in or that we don't even like. We sometimes start to follow what's outside — the trends, the facades and words of others, and so on.
It seems to me like the values of fun, individualism, discipline, efficiency, mental toughness, perseverance, positive non-conformity, mischief, adventure, and stone cold truth. These seem worth aspiring to. These seem worth following — but these can connect what's inside to what's outside. I have been trying to think more about these values more often and see if they might manifest in a commitment to producing things that seem more meaningful and synchronized with the threads that made me. Not by talking about things or daydreaming, but by actually doing them. Not asking someone to sew for me, but learning to sew and challenging myself — the old-fashioned way; the way I started, the way I will end — despite finding myself terribly lost along the path at times.
We keep pushing through the void on a struggle to finish something new, if only for the look in our eyes when we cross the finish line a little more tired, stubborn and maybe even a bit smarter for the next round. I hope you like my line — GBY Ultralight.