Harmattan Design Launches Kickstarter Campaign

Harmattan Design, a new company out of Wilmington, DE, has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their new line of products. The new product line includes backpacks, messenger bags, ladies’ tote bags and purses, a cycling bag, and a document tube. All their products are made of vegetable-tanned, full-grain harness leather from Italy.

Harmattan Design focuses on superb design and high quality materials. Radu, Harmattan Design’s founder, started the company because he was tired of doing cheap design for manufacturers and wanted to apply his skills to a product line with high quality materials. Wanting to get his ideas out of his head, he ended up with 14 different designs, and thus Harmattan Design was born.

All the Kickstarter products are reasonably priced, from $160 – $340. You can save around $40 by ordering early, so be sure to check out Radu’s designs! We have pictures of all 14 of the great looking products, so take a look and be sure to check out the Kickstarter page.

Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 1 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 2 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 3 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 4 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 5 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 6 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 7 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 8 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 9 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 10 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 12 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 13 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 14 Harmattan Leather Kickstarter 15

Suus Announces Kickstarter for Leather Bags, Pouches, and Holsters

Suus is a new brand out of San Diego, California, who recently launched a Kickstarter for their leather bags, pouches, and holsters. The brand was founded by Sandino Cabrera, a graphic designer, who wrote:

One day, I came across a leather workshop. I was amazed by the work of these artisans, and the craftsmanship. I found fascinating how versatile leather can be, that gave me a new vision to expand my creativity and create innovate products. For me, one of the keys to be innovative is to solve the problem in the most stylish and fun way possible. That’s how SUUS was born: a brand that desires to solve carrying needs, founded in offering individuality, functionality, durability, and attention to detail.

Suus begins with 4 basic principles:

  • Functionality & Specialization: Everyone has individual styles and diverse daily activities: entrepreneurs, bikers, attorneys, photographers, designers, and chefs among others. That inspired us to create pieces that can fit your personality and at the same time improve your carry needs.
  • Individuality: We are going to laser engrave your name on each piece. Thanks to new techniques and processes, it is possible to express your uniqueness in each product.
  • Lasting: We value time. We are a generation in demand for non-disposable products. Hence we look for top quality materials and manufacturing processes, to provide you with long lasting warranties.
  • Detail: To create a high-end valued product, we put special attention to each minimal detail. Our interiors are full of life, we pledge to collaborate with the art community, that way we support upcoming artists and at the same time deliver a new experience in every piece.


      • Cody Holster: Cody is a holster inspired by the old Wild West. The purpose is to release men from inconvenient placement of cell phones, keys, wallets, or whatever personal stuff men carry on their pockets on daily basis. To maximize the versatility you can detach the pouch and just use with your belt. You can snatch up the Cody for $130 during the Kickstarter. c757d04e28a973b6567280cceccb9a2b_original (1)


If you want to know more about Holsters, Check this post about Top Sold Holsters.

    • Cooper Purse: The Cooper is a classy daily purse that fits everything. The compartments are strategically placed to improve usability. It has one easy access key compartment. Plenty of room and the SUUS secret feature! One detachable cosmetic pouch that functions like a divider inside the purse thanks to a zipper sewed to the edge. If you snatch it up early enough, you can get the Cooper Purse for just $195.42eb3c5f62da3ab8f8a75fdaff5fae79_original

Suus still has several weeks left on their Kickstarter, so be sure to check out their page and their website. You can watch their video below:

Interview with Thomas Brennan of Moore & Giles

Moore & Giles has been firmly entrenched in the leather industry since it was founded in 1933 in Lynchburg, VA. Currently, Moore & Giles employs more than 70 people in its headquarters in Forest, Virginia with representation in every major metropolitan area as well as strategic partnerships in England, Germany, France, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Moore & Giles designs and develops the world’s most luxurious natural leathers for leather upholstery, residential leather, hospitality leather and aviation leather. In 2007 they also introduced a collection of luxury leather bags and accessories as an additional avenue to showcase the inherent beauty and timeless appeal of their natural leathers.


We spoke to Thomas Brennan, their lead designer, on the phone and at the Magic Trade Show in Las Vegas in February. Thomas has been with Moore & Giles for almost 4 years, since September 2011. His route into bag design was a circuitous one, studying architecture, dabbling in the food service industry, and more. He started off at Moore and Giles as an intern after realizing his love for design.


“Moore & Giles is a great place to be a designer. With the full materials library from the Moore & Giles tannery available to me, I’m able to take advantage of working with almost any type of leather in-house,” says Thomas. As such, Moore & Giles keep their beautiful leather as the focal point of each piece, often sticking with a traditional shape or silhouette while digging into the details and making a piece look or function better than ever.


It takes approximately seven months for a new design to make it from concept to production. The Moore & Giles team cites collaboration and flexibility as the key to their success in design. Their team also does extensive in-house testing with their pieces before they release them to the public. Their own sales team, marketing team, and others within their employ use prototype bags and report back to Thomas on their findings, recommendations, and offer insight into how new bag designs should be finalized for production. And, with the bags that we’ve been able to review and use the end result is well worth the development and testing time.

Thomas’ favorite designs are the Zip Tote and  the Crews Backpack. BestLeather has enjoyed reviewing their gorgeous Sportsman Duffel, Brennan Rucksack, and Donald Dopp Kit. Keep an eye out for more reviews of their Canady Haversack and their Sackett Messenger Bag. The video below is a short interview with Thomas about some of the Moore & Giles Bag designs. We’ve been very impressed with Thomas’ designs and can’t wait to see what he and Moore & Giles do next!

Moore & Giles Bags: An Interview with Designer Thomas Brennan from Moore & Giles, Inc. on Vimeo.

Craft & Lore Launches Kickstarter for The Port Wallet

Craft and Lore, located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is an independent design and build workshop, focusing on leather goods that are simple in form and function. Craft and Lore recently launched a Kickstarter for their Port Wallet, a minimal handmade wallet made to carry your indispensable cards plus some cash. We recently reviewed the Port Wallet, and here’s what our reviewer Ben had to say about it:

“The Port Wallet is a simple, no-fold, four pocket workhorse designed to carry 7-8 cards in the central pocket, as well as a few bills and a drivers license. With 4-5oz hand tanned leather and saddle stitched waxed polyester thread, this wallet is absolutely built to last — most importantly, it is able to withstand the abuse of day-to-day goings. From trips to the coffee shop on my bike to long commutes in the car, this wallet hasn’t appeared to even begin to wear in any way after three weeks of being in my back pocket. The Port Wallet is built to last. Period.

This wallet can be described in just one word: clean. The color of my vegetable-tanned leather Port Wallet reminds me of a fine 15 year single malt scotch: a rich, mesmerizing amber. The stitching accents the clean simplicity of the wallet. The leather is smooth and extremely soft to the touch; it’s an pleasant experience each time you reach in your front pocket.”

Craft and Lore Port Wallet 1
Not pictured: $39 Black Wickett & Craig Harness Leather

Here’s some of the features of the Port Wallet:

  • Cut and saddle stitched by hand in North Idaho
  • 4oz weight full grain vegetable tanned leather
  • W 2.75″ x H 4″ x D .75 ” (full)
    6.9cm x 10.1cm x 1.9cm (full)

For $39, you can get the Port Wallet in a natural veg-tan leather from the Masure Tannery in Belgium, or in Wickett & Craig Harness Leather in medium brown, dark brown, mahogany, or black. For $59, you can have your Port Wallet crafted from soft and supple Horween Dublin leather.

Craft and Lore Port Wallet 2

$39 is a great deal for a handcrafted, saddle-stitched wallet, so be sure to check out their Kickstarter page and their website for more of Craft & Lore’s heritage goods.


Craft and Lore Port Wallet 3

Barber Shop Introduces New Line of Bags & Accessories

There’s a new name in the leather world, an Italian company by the name of Barber Shop. Barber Shop is a collection of 11 styles, entirely designed and made in Italy, which includes 5 bags, 1 hand and 1 wrist-strap, a single and a double bridle and 2 different sizes of leather organizers. Quality, Italian style and functionality are the hallmarks of Barber Shop. Each piece is handcrafted in Bassano del Grappa (Vicenza) by skilled artisans.


From the choice of the leathers, coming from the finest tanneries in Vicenza, to the design and manufacture of every single metal detail, the whole Barber Shop collection was conceived in the beautiful  landscapes of Veneto. This soul makes the brand unique in the world of photography: 100% Italian. Barber Shop bags and accessories have been conceived and styled in Bassano del Grappa, a small jewel of a town set in northeast Italy, in the province of Vicenza.

The Barber Shop line was founded in Italy, the homeland of the classic barber: men with a passion for detail and a flawless craftsmanship. They take care of the face and style of a person: what best expresses their personality. The barber is the man you entrust with your own skin. The name Barber Shop recalls materials such as leather, the idea of an artisan workshop and urban style. Barber scissors and a razor are stylized in the logo. The ‘barber pole’ becomes a distinctive striped red white and blue tape sewn in all Barber Shop products, as well as in the elegant packaging boxes.

Barber Shop bags and accessories are made using selected Italian leathers and fabrics and offers top quality technical features. The unique style and versatility of Barber Shop bags make them perfect, despite the masculine name, both for men and women, and enjoyable also for daily life: just take out the camera satchel and you have a stylish bag for your everyday needs. And when you are shooting, the Barber Shop bags don’t advertise that you are carrying photographic equipment, which makes them safer for traveling. Whether photography is your job or passion, enjoy your special, inspiring moment without any compromise or concern. You need protection, comfort, speed, handiness and transportability for your gear. Barber Shop will take care of everything, so you just need to think about your next shoot.

Details are the hallmark of Barber Shop collection: details that are not just a matter of style, but they allow to live a greater experience, working with a functional, performing product, designed with the photographers’ needs in mind. The Barber Shop team capitalized on the knowledge gained working closely with photographers for years. Every detail of Barber Shop products is designed and tailored to fit the needs of photographers, without giving up style, elegance and the uniqueness of a hand-crafted product.

Barber Shop wants to give time its proper value. The same time that is necessary both to handcraft the highest quality and to give oneself the chance to fully enjoy a product. To handcraft a Barber Shop bag an average of 3 hours of passionate work are needed.

Keep an eye out for Barber Shop products coming this summer! We hope to produce some reviews in the next couple months. In the meantime, check out a few of the preview photos, and take a look at their website: www.barbershopbags.com

BBS-SB-SM-1_front BBS-QU-3 BBS-MT-1 BBS-FR-2_open BBS-TC_1 BBS-RC_2 BBS-BC-2 BBS-PB-5 BBS-UC-3

Filson Father’s Day Gift Guide 2015

Father’s Day is fast approaching, and here at BestLeather.org, we know that quality leather goods are a perfect gift for any occasion. We’ve been checking out a few Father’s Day gift guides this year, and Filson, an outdoor outfitter in Seattle, Washington, has put together a few great suggestions. Established in 1897, Filson is a leading outfitter and manufacturer of goods for outdoor enthusiasts. With its corporate and manufacturing facilities headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Filson is known for making reliable and authentic products. Filson values constructing durable apparel and accessories that withstand generations of use.  Whether Dad is a rugged outdoorsman, a weekend warrior or businessman, Filson can make sure he’s got the right gear. Gifts range from $85 – $700.


Here’s a few of their go-to gifts for Dad:

• Double Prong Belt, handmade at Filson’s Seattle manufacturing facility. The belt is premium, durable Bridle Leather. It has an added D-ring, to attach lanyards, flashlights, carabiners, whatever your outdoorsman needs. $80

Double-Prong Belt
• Medium Leather Pouch, handmade in Seattle and made to last for years. The medium sized pouch holds wallets, keys, and cell phones. The pouch is a secure way to organize Dad’s small devices. $100


Medium Leather Pouch

• Filson’s Original Briefcase, reliable and rugged. This briefcase has dividers for a laptop, accessory organization and all of Dad’s paperwork. $265

Filson Original Briefcase
• A Journeyman GMT Watch. The watch is assembled by hand in Shinola’s state of the art Detroit factory. The three-hand GMT watch is built to withstand the demands of the field. $700

The Journeyman GMT Watch

Of course there are many classic Filson gifts for Dad as well, among them: the Cruiser Jacket, the heritage sportsman bag, a padded computer bag, a leather outfitter wallet and a flask.

And to make it even more special for dad, Filson offers same-day monogramming on leather goods in its Seattle, New York and Minneapolis stores. Monogramming on Father’s Day leather gifts is also available online, at www.filson.com, starting on June 1st.

Find more gifts for Dad here: http://www.filson.com/giftsFIL-NE505A-005

Kendal & Hyde Company Classic Leather Satchel Kickstarter

With four wildly successful Kickstarter campaigns under their belt, Kendal & Hyde Co. is at it again. This time around they have designed a timeless classic leather satchel. “We have spent the past six or so months reworking our design and improving it, refining it down to its basic elements of simplicityutility and strength.”

Kendall & Hyde Co.’s leather satchel is truly one of the most thought out bags we have seen. The add-on, modular accessories bring a refreshing, unique flair to the leather bag industry. Head over to their Kickstarter campaign and check out the new classic satchel, add-on accessories, and leather sleeves. As an offer to BestLeather readers and previous Kendal & Hyde Co. supporters, the first 80 backers will receive an early-bird special on top of their already discounted price, so make sure to make your pledge on Kickstarter soon. BestLeather is excited to be reviewing several Kendal & Hyde Co. products, so be sure to look for our upcoming reviews of the Classic Leather Satchel and their Goodyear Welted Boots.

2015 Graduation Gift Guide

It’s that time of year! High school and college students are moving on to the next step, and graduation gift shopping begins. Leather products are a great gift due to their longevity and utility, and we wouldn’t want young whippersnappers stepping out into the collegiate and professional world without the finest of leather goods. Before you whip out the checkbook or grab a gift card, take a look at a few of the items we’ve picked out for new grads.

Messenger Bags

Copper River Bag Co. 14″ Courier Mail Bag – $138

The Copper River Bag Company’s take on the classic courier mail bag is a well-constructed piece at a very good price. Read our review.


Floto Imports Messenger Brief – $399

Soft Italian leather and beautiful brass hardware make a beautiful, simple messenger brief. Read our review.


Basader Handmade Classic Messenger Bag with Gusset – $400

Gorgeous, expertly constructed messenger bag with easy-access straps. Perfect for a young professional. Read our review.

Basader Gusseted Briefcase Review07


Fjallraven Rucksack #21 Large – $225

Waxed fabric with leather detail, contains a padded pocket for a laptop. Review coming soon!


The Thrux Pack – Canvas and Leather Backpack – $480

This hefty canvas and leather backpack will last a lifetime, and look good doing it. Read our review here, and be sure to check out the all leather version.

thrux lawrence thrux pack in paris09

Saddleback Leather Simple Backpack – $458 – $558

This perfect carry-all bag with padded straps comes in three colors.

Saddleback leather simple backpack side

Laptop Sleeves

Tox Leather Shiny MacBook / Document Case – $75 to $95

Tox Leather’s Macbook case is made of waxy, shiny leather. It has a large pocket for a laptop and a smaller pocket for papers, so this case is great to take to class or meetings. Read our review.


Saddleback Leather MacBook Sleeve – $93

Saddleback’s Leather Macbook Sleeve is a hefty, simple case that comes in four color choices. Read our review.

Saddleback Leather Macbook Sleeve Review - $931

Waltzing Matilda Avery Sleeve for MacBook Pro – $160

Simply designed laptop sleeve with a strap closure. Read the review here.



Maxwell Scott “The Pienza” – $59

The Pienza pen holder from Maxwell Scott makes a great gift for any new professional. Review coming soon!


The Goods – The Loop MacBook Cord Holder – $60

This must-have accessory for Macbook owners keeps your cord compact and organized. Read the review here.


North Star Leather Horween Leather Bifold Wallet – $65

Any of North Star Leather’s wallets will make a great, long-lasting, quality graduation gift, especially if you are on a budget. Read our review!


Shinola Journal Cover for iPad Mini – $150

This journal cover and iPad mini portfolio is made of soft Horween leather and comes in a wide variety of fun colors. Full review coming soon!

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 3.25.33 PM

Colonel Littleton No. 18 Tablet Portfolio for iPad – $189.50

This portfolio has a pocket for your iPad and comes equipped with Colonel Littleton’s very own notepad to keep you organized. Read our full review here.


Under $50

Waterfield Designs Razor Case – $30

Convenient case for a safety razor, perfect for a guy on the go. Read our review.


Lopalo Leather Bifold Card Holder – $40

Minimalist bifold card holder crafted from Horween Chromexcel Leather. Read our review.


Stock & Barrel No. 37 Cord Keeper – $28

This handy little accessory will keep your graduate’s earbuds from getting tangled. Read the full review that includes several other fun accessories from Stock and Barrel,


Over $500

Colonel Littleton No. 40 Campaign Bag – $809

At over $800, this bag is expensive, but you won’t see many like it– beautiful brass hardware and impeccable construction. Read our review.


Coronado Leather Americana Large Duffel Bag – $799

Rugged and roomy duffel bag made from Horween’s Dublin leather. Read the review here.

Coronado Leather Large Duffel03


The Sandast Gregory Pack, while pricy, is a unique backpack that ages beautifully. It’s on the smaller side, so keep this one in mind when shopping for ladies. Read our full review.


We chose items from a variety of price points and styles. These are some of our current favorites, but there are plenty of great options here on BestLeather.org to fulfill any budget or need. If you have any more great gift ideas, let us know in the comments!

**Gift guide was created & assembled by TJ McWhorter & Casey Stoddard**

Waltzing Matilda to Open Brick & Mortar Store

Waltzing Matilda USA is a brand that specializes in leather sandals, bags, and accessories. Here at BestLeather, we’ve taken a liking to WM’s rugged, bohemian style. Last year, we reviewed their Tom’s Bag, a unique messenger bag, their BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier – an attractive bag designed to carry two wine bottles, and their Avery MacBook Sleeve, a simple laptop sleeve with a beautiful strap closure. And we’ll be publishing a review of their Nica Sandals very soon.

As a quick refresher, Waltzing Matilda is located in Wayne, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. Mike Balitsaris and his team expertly source all of their materials here in the USA and craft each piece by hand. Mike’s passion for his craft shines through in every piece.

Waltzing Matilda recently announced the opening of their very first brick and mortar store in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Their grand opening is this weekend – May 15th and 16th. If you’re in the area, stop by and you’ll get a free personalized gift if you purchase something. We’re excited to see where Waltzing Matilda goes next!

Waltzing Matilda Store Opening

Intrepid Bag Company Expanding Its Product Line with Kickstarter

Back in June 2014, we introduced our awesome readers to Intrepid Bag Company with a review of its Journeyman Messenger – a unique, attractive, minimalist take on traditional messenger bags.


Now Intrepid Bag Company has teamed up with the folks at Pad & Quill to introduce a new line of products. In keeping with their “go anywhere’ mindset, this new line of bags is called the Explorer line and features five great looking new products:

  • The Wayfarer Messenger – which appears to be a more robust Journeyman Messenger.
  • The Zinnia Convertible – a great take on a vertical-oriented messenger bag with a unique strap setup allowing it to also quickly and easily be carried backpack style.
  • The Tech Tool Roll – looks like a great organizer roll to keep all of the cords and wires for our wireless technology untangled and under control.
  • The Camera Strap – looks like a very comfortable, functional take on the traditional camera strap featuring a nice, wide padded strap and a great mounting system.
  • The Slim Wallet – should be attractive to those who prefer a minimalist approach to wallet carry (should be able to carry it in a front or back pocket with ease).

Stephen & Tiffani, founders of Intrepid Bag Co, have turned to Kickstarter again to launch their Explorer product line. The designs appear to be very solid and given the nature of the materials used they will last for many, many years to come. Take a few minutes, check out their great looking Kickstarter and back their efforts. You’ll be rewarded with a great product!

Longer Lasting High Quality Leather Soles – Rendenbach

This is a sponsored post by SHOEPASSION.com.


The name Rendenbach enjoys worldwide recognition, synonymous with extremely comfortable, high-quality manufactured leather soles. Founded in 1871 by Joh. Rendenbach Jr., this traditional company has always used the same, centuries-old production method to create first-rate Rendenbach soles—namely, pit tanning. This special tanning method is not only environmentally friendly, but also guarantees the unsurpassed quality of Rendenbach soles.

Rendenbach Shoes Soles4

Rendenbach soles – traditional and exclusive quality since 1871

Over 140 years have elapsed since Johann Rendenbach Junior founded his eponymous, Trier-based leather factory in 1871. In the beginning, Rendenbach’s great-grandfather and grandfather delivered breathable, sturdy Rendenbach soles to upscale shoe factories and shoe repair workshops. The one-of-a-kind quality of these soles led many renowned shoe manufacturers to demand their own, customized designs.

Now in the fourth generation of family ownership, Rendenbach is currently run by the founder’s great-grandson, Hanns Rendenbach. He continues the tradition of the Rendenbach sole in Trier, Germany’s oldest city. As before, the secret of the Rendenbach sole still lies in traditional pit tanning; few manufacturers can perfectly execute this classic craft.

Rendenbach Shoes Soles1

high-quality natural products

The renowned pit tanning method is essential to the production of a high-quality Rendenbach sole. Inside roughly three metre deep oak pits, vegetable tannins are combined with soft leather fibres. In keeping with tradition, Rendenbach only uses first-rate leather hides and obtains the tannins exclusively from natural sources. The special tanning formula contains oak, spruce and mimosa bark, as well as the Mediterranean valonea fruit. These natural products make Rendenbach soles especially skin-friendly.

Rendenbach Shoes Soles5

Rendenbach Shoes Soles3

Before the Rendenbach sole is complete, it undergoes a series of preparatory steps: the leather is oiled with vegetable fats, gently dried, rolled, and cut. This intricate, environmentally friendly process pays off; it’s reflected in the extremely high quality of the leather, as well as the solidity and sustainability of the Rendenbach sole.

Rendenbach Shoes Soles2

The Advantages of Rendenbach quality

The Rendenbach sole not only guarantees natural water resistance and a stable form, but also an incomparably high level of wearing comfort. Rendenbach soles are distinguished by their light weight, their ‘air-conditioning’ effect, and their natural, elegant grain pattern. These traditional leather soles are completely biodegradable, fulfil the requirements of the German Medicinal Products Law, and are ISO-9001 certified.

Rendenbach Shoes Soles6

Rendenbach Shoes Soles7

Each of the models in our exotic men’s shoe collection is fitted with a high-quality Rendenbach sole; after all, a first-rate leather sole lays the foundation for every exclusive men’s shoe.

Buying Cheap: How It Costs You More When You Could Have High Quality And Durability

There is a famous quote by Mahatma Ghandi

“Its a tragedy of the first magnitude that millions of people have ceased to use their hands as hands. Nature has bestowed upon us this great gift which is our hands. If the craze for machinery methods continues, it is highly likely that a time will come when we shall be so incapacitated and weak that we shall begin to curse ourselves for having forgotten the use of the living machines given to us by God.”

– Mahatma Ghandi

Continue reading “Buying Cheap: How It Costs You More When You Could Have High Quality And Durability”

Buy It For Life – Part Six: Buy For Life Every Time?

Should we demand high quality in every product we purchase or is it OK to be content with low quality from time to time and in some circumstances?

The most appropriate answer would be similar to the answer that my psychology professors in college would often give: it depends. If obtaining quality is within reach, even with some sacrifice or patience, it is worth it to forgo a cheap product in lieu of saving up to purchase a higher quality one. The return on investment is simply greater than the higher cost. The amount of enjoyment that you get from it, the durability that you will experience, the cachet that it brings to you, how well it works, are all benefits of that quality.

VLUU L100, M100 / Samsung L100, M100

In conversations with craftsman of high quality goods, we agree that America is going through a small renaissance; a return to its roots. America is tired of junk. We are okay having less, if that less is something of quality. It is better to have a single, high quality belt that you can wear everyday, that improves with age, than five belts that unravel after a year or two. It is simply better to have fewer, high quality goods, than closets full of junk.

As a society, we need to go back to our roots of craftsman designing and building products that endure, and run away from high quantity, high turnover goods. The time has come for us to fully embrace quality, and the hallmarks that represent it.

read more in the Buy It for Life series

Buy It For Life – Part One: Durability

Buy It For Life – Part Two: Aesthetics

Buy It For Life – Part Three: Design

Buy It For Life – Part Four: Cost

Buy It For Life – Part Five: Cachet

Buy It For Life – Part Six: Buy For Life Every Time?

Buy It For Life – Part Seven: 6 Rational Reason to Buy An Expensive Leather Bag Instead Of An Inexpensive Bag

Buy It For Life – Part Eight: What You Should Find In A Long Lasting Leather Bag

Buy It For Life – Part Five: Cachet

Cachet, “the state of being respected or admired” is another hallmark of quality. Cachet is intangible, yet produces a physiological effect, that impacts how we view and feel about an object.

Certain goods are produced in a way that make people who have them look or feel better. When I purchased my first high quality leather bag and brought it with me to work, my head was held a little higher, and my chest was puffed out a little more. I felt good having this bag with me. I felt a bit more confident. I felt like it said something about who I was, and the values that I had. This is a very distinct example of something that has quality, it makes you look or feel better, because you know that it is something that was made with high attention to detail, with excellent materials, by skilled craftsman.

What Is Quality - A Treatise08

The feeling of being proud of certain goods does not always mean that what you have is of high quality though. When I got a Jansport backpack for my freshman year of high school, for example, I similarly thought that I was a little cooler, because it was what a lot of other kids had. This did not mean that it was a high quality product. It was my perception. But like cost, where a high quality product will never be inexpensive, a certain amount of cachet will always be associated with a high quality good. If something has cachet, you will know it. You’ll be stopped and complimented. You’ll be noticed. You might just have a little more swagger in your gait as a result. Chances are, you’ll have something of high quality.

read more in the Buy It for Life series

Buy It For Life – Part One: Durability

Buy It For Life – Part Two: Aesthetics

Buy It For Life – Part Three: Design

Buy It For Life – Part Four: Cost

Buy It For Life – Part Five: Cachet

Buy It For Life – Part Six: Buy For Life Every Time?

Buy It For Life – Part Seven: 6 Rational Reason to Buy An Expensive Leather Bag Instead Of An Inexpensive Bag

Buy It For Life – Part Eight: What You Should Find In A Long Lasting Leather Bag

Buy It For Life – Part Four: Cost

More expensive products are not always the best products, but how expensive an item is, is usually an indicator of quality. Cost is another hallmark of quality. Just because something costs more though, does not mean that that something is better, or does it?

There certainly is a relationship between cost and quality. It is impossible to make something very well, if the materials and the skill of the craftsman are poor. Highly skilled craftsman demand higher wages. The best materials naturally demand higher costs. If you buy a leather wallet for $20, you can pretty much guarantee that it’s not going to last very long and may not even function like it should. I’ve bought my fair share of $20 leather wallets, which inevitably I throw out over time, because they eventually started falling apart. Comparatively, I purchased a well constructed wallet 2 years ago, and the wallet has only seemed to improve with time. The wallet cost me just under $60. At approximately 3 times the cost of more mainstream wallets, this new wallet is comparatively expensive. Considering that this wallet will most likely last my entire life, it is actually comparatively inexpensive.

What Is Quality - A Treatise07

Does this cost/quality scale continue indefinitely though in a linear line? Is a $600 wallet, ten times better than a $60 wallet. There certainly are diminishing returns after a certain price point. Determining what that price point is, is difficult to do, and of course depends on the product category. With leather goods, there are four price points as they relate to quality: 1. Cheap 2. Decent 3. Great 4. Exceptional.

1. You can buy an inexpensive leather product and it will be cheap. It won’t last long, won’t look good after a little use, and will eventually fall apart.

2. A decent product will last longer, function better, but will be lacking in certain areas. It’s like buying a $20 belt at a department store. This belt will look good for a while and will do a good job, but you’re not going to have this belt longer than a couple years.

3. Great quality is the $100 belt. This belt can last last a lifetime if properly cared for. It is built with the best leather by skilled craftsman. It can improve with age, and you didn’t have to go into debt to acquire it.

4. The exceptional price point also provides for a great quality product, but at a price point so high that few can afford it. This is the $700 Hermes belt. Is the $700 belt that much better than the $100 belt? In some cases, perhaps, but in many cases, no. The vast majority of these products will also last a lifetime, they are made of the best materials and by the best craftsman. They are unique mostly because they cost so much. A deliberate attempt at pricing out the majority, in order to create exclusivity.

read more in the Buy It for Life series

Buy It For Life – Part One: Durability

Buy It For Life – Part Two: Aesthetics

Buy It For Life – Part Three: Design

Buy It For Life – Part Four: Cost

Buy It For Life – Part Five: Cachet

Buy It For Life – Part Six: Buy For Life Every Time?

Buy It For Life – Part Seven: 6 Rational Reason to Buy An Expensive Leather Bag Instead Of An Inexpensive Bag

Buy It For Life – Part Eight: What You Should Find In A Long Lasting Leather Bag

What Is Quality - A Treatise06

Buy It For Life – Part Three: Design

Form certainly does follow function. Like a beautifully constructed building, a properly constructed leather bag works as it is intended to work, and the shape it takes enables that function.

A backpack, for example, is intended to carry books and gear, and to carry them comfortably. A quality backpack will therefore be large enough to carry these goods comfortably, to carry a sufficient quantity of gear, and to do so with sufficient comfort. Beyond that though, design boils down to much finer details as well. A quality leather backpack will have fine, even stitching, and the stitching will serve to reinforce and hold together the leather in the best possible way. The thread will be an appropriate thickness, to ensure strong seams and long life. The rivets will be secured in the most appropriate parts of the bag, to virtually eliminate the possibility of the bag coming apart. The leather used in the bag will be the most sensible for it’s purpose.

What Is Quality - A Treatise04

The design of a quality product will be planned and thought out from the smallest detail, to its most general use. This attention to detail inevitably leads to a more time consuming process in creating the product, which inevitably leads to a more expensive product.

read more in the Buy It for Life series

Buy It For Life – Part One: Durability

Buy It For Life – Part Two: Aesthetics

Buy It For Life – Part Three: Design

Buy It For Life – Part Four: Cost

Buy It For Life – Part Five: Cachet

Buy It For Life – Part Six: Buy For Life Every Time?

Buy It For Life – Part Seven: 6 Rational Reason to Buy An Expensive Leather Bag Instead Of An Inexpensive Bag

Buy It For Life – Part Eight: What You Should Find In A Long Lasting Leather Bag

Buy It For Life – Part Two: Aesthetics

Beauty is another hallmark of quality. Consider when you are shopping for a great pair of leather shoes. What is the first thing you notice in a quality pair of shoes – they look beautiful.

Italian shoes especially have a noticeable sveltness due to the blake sole method. You do not immediately notice the durability, because that takes time to determine, but you do notice how beautiful the items looks. A leather bag that is a piece of junk may look fantastic upon first glance, but upon further inspection (or ownership) it’s true cheapness is discovered.

What Is Quality - A Treatise02

Can a high quality pair of leather shoes or finely made leather gloves look terrible? I do not think so. Inherent in a quality product is pleasing aesthetics. Have you ever purchased a high quality leather bag and realized that you have a hard time peeling your eyes from it? When I purchased one of my first high quality leather products, an iPad sleeve, I had a hard time not staring at it. It was beautiful. The color of the leather. The perfect stitching. The clean cuts. Perhaps I was a little obsessed, but the point is that an inherent quality of the sleeve was it’s aesthetics. A crappy product may look good, but a quality product never looks poor. Similarly, a quality product not only looks like it’s quality, but functions like it too.

read more in the Buy It for Life series

Buy It For Life – Part One: Durability

Buy It For Life – Part Two: Aesthetics

Buy It For Life – Part Three: Design

Buy It For Life – Part Four: Cost

Buy It For Life – Part Five: Cachet

Buy It For Life – Part Six: Buy For Life Every Time?

Buy It For Life – Part Seven: 6 Rational Reason to Buy An Expensive Leather Bag Instead Of An Inexpensive Bag

Buy It For Life – Part Eight: What You Should Find In A Long Lasting Leather Bag

Avund Goods Changer V Review - $223

Buy It For Life – Part One: Durability

Most of us would define quality similarly to the Webster Dictionary: “How good or bad something is”. At BestLeather.org, we define quality as how well crafted a leather product is.

One way of looking at quality is as a means of comparison from one thing to another. You may look at a product and think that it is a quality product, because it is better than another product you’re aware of. Most would agree that a Subway or Blimpie’s sandwich is better quality than your homemade PB & J. Does that mean that the Subway sandwich is the highest quality sandwich, or just better quality than. If you compared a Croque Monsieur sandwich at Les Deux Magots in France to your local Subway Meatball Marinara, you could then possibly argue that the Subway sandwich is not really a quality sandwich at all, at least compared to the French sarnie.

Considering that we care about leather here at BestLeather.org, lets look at a leather example. Would you consider a leather wallet made by Louis Vuitton in Italy better quality than one made by Tommy Hilfiger in India. The Vuitton costs over $600 and the Hilfiger under $30. Is a wallet by Saddleback Leather, which costs $59 of a higher quality than the Vuitton wallet? How would one determine which is the better quality and which is worth the money? What are the criteria, tangible and intangible, that determines whether something is high quality or not? Is there a price point, at which higher quality produces diminishing returns?

These questions can best be answered in looking at five hallmarks of quality. It is important to first note that quality can be applied to just about every facet of our lives: relationships, food, writing, time, professions, goods, etc. For the purposes of this article, let’s stick to quality as it relates to goods, and more particularly, leather. This list is not exhaustive, but encompasses a broad spectrum of quality.

What Is Quality - A Treatise10


The hallmark most of us would initially consider in relation to quality goods would be durability – how well a product wears over time. This is the case for good reason; most of us accept that when a product lasts a long time it is of good quality. In most cases, durability is a great indicator of a quality product.

For a good to last a long time, there are certain processes and materials used, to ensure that the product endures over time. A backpack that is made from full grain leather, that has been expertly tanned, dyed all of the way through the grain, is doubtless going to last longer than one that has been stripped down to the weaker leather fibers, tanned in an expedient fashion, and simply painted. The fact that a backpack can last you many years, even many decades, illustrates the pinnacle of the definition of construction quality. One that falls apart after a year or two of periodic, or even heavy use, illustrates a product that was not quality made. When it comes to leather goods, you have to look at three key factors that determine durability.

Helm Boots Chromexcel Bloom Article2

1. Type of leather used.

Full grain leather is simply the best leather that can be used in the making of most leather goods. Top grain leather, genuine leather, or bonded leather, are all lesser versions of their stronger brother. They lack the grain strength that comes from using the more densely packed fibers of the outer layer of the animal skin, and therefore lose some of the durability. Top grain leather can be an exception in some cases, because it is also the outer layer of the animal skin, but is still shaved down to meet certain applications. When looking for a high quality leather product, look for full grain to ensure you are getting the most durable good possible.

2. Tanning process.

How a hide is tanned, makes all of the difference in the end quality and durability of the leather. You can start with a quality, full grain hide, and if poorly tanned, that leather might as well be vinyl.

There are two major methods of tanning: chrome based tanning and vegetable tanning. There are many other, less common methods of tanning (i.e. brain tanned, alum tanned, aldehyde tanned, etc.), but considering that veg and chrome tanning are the most common, let us focus on those.

Vegetable tanning uses naturally occurring extracts, such as tree bark, to slowly tan a hide. The process takes weeks, and when done properly results in an extremely durable hide used in a variety of leather goods.

Chrome based tanning occurs by tumbling hides with metal chromium. This method was developed in the mid 19th century and resulted in a much quicker process of tanning a hide.

Vegetable tanned leathers are considered by some to be more durable than chrome tanned leathers. The majority of junk leather is chrome tanned, which perhaps explains the negative association, but not all chrome tanning is produces less durable leather. The Horween Company in Chicago produces a fine chrome tanned leather that is used in quality leather goods. These leathers can last as long as vegetable tanned leathers, because of the strict adherence to a quality process.

The important aspect in deciding which tanning process is most appropriate will depend on the end use of the leather, and the quality of the process itself.

What Is Quality - A Treatise03

3. Construction

Without proper construction, the best leather, tanned with the best process, will eventually break or fall apart. Outside of proper design, the most crucial aspect of construction is the choice of thread used. There are a few varieties of thread used in quality leather goods. Polyester, nylon, and linen are the most common (artificial sinew, dacron, leather cord are other, less common choices) . With these, there are an abundance of options as well – waxed, unwaxed, bonded, unbonded, you get the point. The importance is to choose the thread that is most appropriate for the leather, the product, and the stitching method.

Another component in high quality leather bags is the use of rivets. The use of rivets is a classic example of over engineering. Rivets strengthen a bag beyond what only stitching can do. A properly placed rivet prevents seams from separating and further strengthens the stitching. Well placed rivets and evenly spaced stitching can also be quite beautiful.

read more in the Buy It for Life series

Buy It For Life – Part One: Durability

Buy It For Life – Part Two: Aesthetics

Buy It For Life – Part Three: Design

Buy It For Life – Part Four: Cost

Buy It For Life – Part Five: Cachet

Buy It For Life – Part Six: Buy For Life Every Time?

Buy It For Life – Part Seven: 6 Rational Reason to Buy An Expensive Leather Bag Instead Of An Inexpensive Bag

Buy It For Life – Part Eight: What You Should Find In A Long Lasting Leather Bag

What Is Quality - A Treatise05

Why My Leather Shoes Are Made In Italy

This is an opinion guest post by Paul Evans, Co-Founder & CEO at Paul Evans, a fairly new NY based shoe company.

You have most likely heard that American manufacturing is undergoing a renaissance. Many believe that our country’s manufacturing costs are becoming more competitive and that future economic prosperity will be tied to growth in the manufacturing sector. While many industries are well situated to benefit from a rise in American manufacturing, I do not believe footwear is among them.

Paul Evans Shoe Article1

In the United States there are virtually no footwear manufacturers still in operation. Beyond Alden in the Northeast and Allen Edmonds in the Midwest, shoe manufacturing in the United States is limited to a select number of local boot manufacturers. Believe me, I’ve looked. I spent over a year sourcing factories internationally to find the best possible product at my retail price point. I found that factory in Italy after extensively traveling the country.

Italy is a superior choice for shoe manufacturing because of expertise, tradition and location. There are thousands of factories in Italy that have been in operation for generations, passing along the savoir-faire and passion necessary to create beautiful shoes. The Italian artisans have been around for so long that their experience ensures stylish, quality footwear. They’ve seen thousands of styles throughout the years and know how what works and what doesn’t. Feedback from my factory has ensured I am able to produce a shoe that will endure.


Additionally, factories are clustered in communities that are dedicated to producing shoes. During one of my sourcing trips I was driven around town to meet the many suppliers involved in the production process. The relationships my factory has with its suppliers ensures production will be as seamless as possible, while also keeping production costs low. And of course, the numerous trade shows in Italy contribute to the continued success of the Italian fashion industry as ideas are shared, relationships are forged and new and creative merchandise is sold for international distribution.

menswear tradeshow

Two of the most well known Italian trade shows are Pitti Uomo and Micam. Pitti Uomo is a menswear extravaganza with something for everybody. Held twice a year in Florence, menswear buyers, brands and enthusiasts are able to see new product, order merchandise for their stores and of course create lasting relationships. Micam is held bi-annually as well in Milan and is arguably the most important footwear trade show in the world. Anybody who is anybody in footwear is there. And again relationships are key in this industry. The relationship I have with my factory is without a doubt my brand’s greatest asset. They don’t pick up the phone for just anyone. It takes time and effort to cultivate a lasting bond with these Italian artisans who are so passionate about fashion.

And that’s why my shoes are made in Italy. The skilled artisans, the convenient infrastructure and the presence of a large footwear community make Italy a superior choice for shoe production. Italy is the ideal country for new brands looking to break into the world of fashion.


Leather Shoe Construction Methods – Goodyear, Blake, Blake-Rapid, Bologna, Norwegian, Adhesive

There are five distinct ways of soling a leather shoe. Each shoe’s sole impacts its comfort, durability, and waterproofing. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Goodyear Construction

Goodyear welted shoes are distinctive for their waterproof soles since the stitch that attaches the sole to the shoe runs along the outside edge instead of piercing through to the inside of the shoe. The sole attaches to the welt (a strip of rubber, leather, or plastic) which then attaches to the upper. The welt forms a cavity which is then filled with cork or similar material. Because the stitch line runs around the outside of the shoe it is relatively easy for a shoe-maker to resole Goodyear welted shoes.


As you may suspect, the name comes from Charles Goodyear who patented the machine capable of sewing around the perimeter, replacing the need for hand-sewn welts. These days, it is rare to see shoes with Goodyear welting because of the time and difficulty, and the fact that it requires skilled labor.

Advantages: Waterproof, and durable. Easily resolable, extending the lifetime of the shoe for many years.

Disadvantages: Cost. Because stitching is done on the outside of the sole, Goodyear welted shoes tend to be bulkier and less sleek.

Free Shipping - Allen Edmonds Shoes

Blake Construction (a.k.a. The McKay Method)

Lyman Reed Blake invented the machine in 1856 to make this method possible and later sold it to Gordon McKay. It is a simple process of joining the sole directly with the shoe’s upper with a large strong stitch. This makes the sole thinner than the goodyear welted shoes because they do not need an intermediate layer connecting the shoe sole to the shoe upper.


Advantages: Ease of construction, sole flexibility, and sleeker, more fashionable shoes (which the Italians are famous for).

Disadvantages: Less waterproof soles due to the stitching. Sometimes the thinner soles can be less comfortable on cheap shoes, and most seriously, the thin leather soles can wick water from the ground into the shoe (rubber soles negate this).

Many shoes made with Blake construction are of lower quality BUT there are many good makers who utilize this technique and are worth considering. Blake construction is most popular among Italian shoemakers, who dominate the high-end leather shoe market.

The Brando by Paul Evans

Blake-Rapid Construction

Blake-Rapid is a synthesis of Goodyear and Blake methods, where the stitching technique of Blake is combined with the extra midsole of the Goodyear. Many manufacturers that utilize the Blake method will also use Blake-Rapid. Blake-Rapid shoes tend to be bulkier because of the midsole introduction and thus is typically used on more rugged shoes.


Advantages: Waterproof and more durable than the Blake method.

Disadvantages: Soles are less flexible and added bulk makes soles further from the upper.

Norwegian (AKA Norvegese)

The Norwegian method is an uncommon demonstration of shoemaking virtue. It was originally designed to make shoes more waterproof but has faded from common usage due to its difficulty.


The unique feature of the Norwegian method is the shoe upper is stitched to both the outer sole via the Goodyear method and by the insole. This effectively closes off the channel that water would otherwise use and makes the shoe quite waterproof compared to other methods.


Beware of Blake constructed shoes that knock off the Norwegian method by applying stitching around the base of the upper that does not connect it to the insole. Some manufacturers charge much more for this worthless feature.

Check out Sutor Mantellassi shoes in the United Sates. Santoni, A. Testoni, and Lattanzi also make Norwegian method shoes.


The Bologna style is suitable for shoes with flexible soles such as slippers or moccasins because of their simple design. The leather upper is wrapped around the bottom and sewn up. Then the sole is sewn directly to the upper. So, no sole touching your feet. Just soft leather all the way around your foot.

The stitch is very similar-looking to Blake, except the stitching is closer to the edge on the inside of the shoe so you don’t feel it.bolognascreensw9

Advantages: Very comfortable and easy to make. Suitable for moccasins and slippers.

Disadvantages: Not waterproof or very durable compared to other methods.


Cheap soles are glued to cheap leather uppers by cavemen.

Advantages: It’s cheap.

Disadvantages: Not durable and falls apart quickly. This method was officially banned by the United Nations in 1957 in the Resolution To End Crap Shoes (hehe). It is punishable by mocking.