In an age of bland, mass-produced clothing and accessories, there's something to be said for handmade craftsmanship and items built with integrity. Herewith, five American artisans who have turned a passion for leatherworking and an appreciation for old world techniques into stylish and soulful pieces that will last you a lifetime.
Jason Gregory's sturdy collection of hand sewn leather goods were influenced by relics found in his grandfather's basement. A pilot who traversed the globe, his granddad's old camera cases and bags inspired Gregory to leave his 9-to-5 job for the world of leather. In 2005, the Orlando-based designer started with a few made-to-order pieces, but demand grew and he launched a full line of goods including a range of wallets, belts and, of course, camera bags.
A one-man operation out of Cape Cod, Eric Heins cuts and sews every piece by hand in his Massachusetts workshop. Metal trimmings are engineered in-house and produced in California and Georgia. Durability is paramount—everything is constructed with a traditional saddle stitch and strong waxed thread. According to Heins, he utilizes a lot of natural vegetable-tanned leather because "I want it to show its age and tell its own story."
Frank Clegg was destined to work with leather. "My great grandfather was a tanner in England, so you could say leather's in the blood." In the game since the early 1970s, the process he and his team use to craft their wares has remained virtually unchanged. Based in Fall River, MA (the workshop is located in a former textile mill) they use top quality leathers and finish each bag with solid brass rivets and heavy Swiss-made zippers to increase their longevity.
Travel duffle, $885