Leather goods have existed, in one form or another, for thousands of years. Staples we use on a daily basis, like wallets and belts, haven’t changed much, save for the inclusion of credit card slots in billfolds. That said, producing leather goods is a traditional craft with global history. America, in particular, is home to many high-volume leather goods brands. But it’s in the small-batch producers where the diversity can be found. From coast to coast, this cross-section represents the best small-batch leather goods producers in the States.
Moop makes everything from bags and wallets to things that go in both, all in a small shop located in Seattle. Owner and designer Wendy Downs used to operate a shop in Pittsburgh, along a quiet street in the city's downtown sector. She's since reimagined how often she both works and releases product. As such, the stock can be limited but is so worth waiting for.
Bags, gloves, a pencil case, dog toys, dog collars, coasters, guitar pick holders... you name it, and Portland-based leather goods store Ship John probably sells it. Plus, it's all made in the back of the shop, where plenty is prototyped before reaching the shelves.
San Francisco designer Noah Guy and his brand, Joshu+Vela, don't just make bags. But, they're probably the best thing they do. Find this leather tote (above), a leather backpack, leather duffel, and a few pouches, plus throw pillows and trays, too.
Chicago-based Ashland Leather Co. was founded by two tannery workers with over twenty years combined experience. All of its products are cut from Horween Leather (a Chicago institution) and showcase minimalist designs. The brand’s shell cordovan bifolds, which start at $200, come in a range of colors and features six card slots.
Gfeller Casemakers offers a modest array of leather goods for daily use along with its traditional line of geoscience products — which the brand focused on at its founding. “We don’t build to a price requirement,” current owner Steve Derricott says. “We believe that is a surefire way to allow compromising of material quality and/or production methods into the business.” The brand’s Field Belt starts at $91 and Field Cases start at $114. More general items like Notebook covers start at $65, and Card Holders start at $33. “We build it right, price it fair and let the customer make the choice,” he said. “It has always been this way with Gfeller products.”
Corter Leather is a solar-powered leather goods company located on Cape Cod. All stitching is done by hand and most all metal trimmings are produced in either California or Georgia. The brand’s standard utility belt features solid brass hardware and a stitch-free design. It’s available in vegetable tanned harness leather, latigo, and english bridle leather.
Founded in LA by brothers Chris and Kirk Bray, Billykirk has since moved to Jersey City, NJ, where the two operate a design studio and a small workshop. Together, they make a lot: totes, wine totes, trays, duffels, wallets, toiletry bags, bike accessories and beyond.
Portland, Oregon-based Tanner Goods makes everything from belts and wallets to bags and pet accessories. Their prices are fair considering the quality and monograms can be added to most things for an additional fee.
Founded in Alaska and now based in Washington, Ewing Dry Goods makes a point to use American-made-and-raised products whenever possible (if not, Dan Ewing sources from countries with labor laws and fair wages for their workers). The brand’s Gentleman’s Billfold has a waitlist, and for good reason. This rugged snap-closure wallet is cut from seven-ounce Horween Chromexcel leather and features a three-ounce natural vegetable-tanned interior and six card pockets.
Kika NY offers belts, sandals, bags and more. The Postal No. 1 backpack is a stand-out piece, cut from water-resistant vegetable-tanned Italian leather. The solid brass closure is sourced from a small foundry in England and the main compartment holds a 13-inch laptop and other necessities.
Washington-based Mack Provisions takes its approach to leather goods from the baseball diamond and repurposes vintage leather baseball gloves into accessories like wallets, key fobs and more. The nature of the process means every piece is unique with its own history and patina. Not only that, but every piece is made by the founder, KC Mack, himself.
Started in 2009 in Monterey Park, California, Chester Mox crafts fine leather goods with a dressy appeal. Sourcing leathers from around the globe, the leather goods brand produces the gamut of classic leather goods using traditional saddle stitching techniques. Each premium piece is worth monogramming, but its California Tote Bag is a standout.
Denver-based brand Pigeon Tree Crafting offers a wide range of premium leather goods from beefy trucker wallets to industrial copper and leather magazine racks to indigo-dipped wallets and belts. For the guy who enjoys a wabi-sabi-denimhead lifestyle, Pigeon Tree Crafting should be a brand to note.
Lotuff aims to bring luxury leather goods to the market via its New England atelier. With a studio of skilled leather artisans, Lotuff specializes in briefcases and bags but also produces top-tier small leather goods. Its Leather Zip-Top Briefcase is one of the most elegant around and comes in a range of leather options, each of which will make you look good in front of your boss.