Lotuff & Clegg Bags? - Page 2
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Well hands down Clegg is the winner look at his product line in a matter of a few months he has come up with so many new designs he has the talent in this business and without it i cant see them going far without clegg to design and manufacture and how can the lotuffs even still be making the bags designed by frank...if you are gonna leave at least come up with your own designs!
I too am curious about the story behind this split. I discovered Lotuff and then Frank Clegg because I saw the Lotuff bag on Barney's. Lotuff's marketing is certainly beautiful (great website and photos), but I notice their "about us" page makes no reference to their prior partnership with Clegg, and I would feel a little uncomfortable buying from them if there was anything unethical going on. Clegg's prices are better for what looks like comparable leather, and he's clearly a longtime craftsman of beautiful pieces. That said, I wouldn't have even discovered these (for a while anyway) if Lotuff hadn't been on Barney's site, and they have a couple of offerings that Clegg's site doesn't have (like the Lock Briefcase) - it's just the English briefcase and travel duffles that give me pause. Anyone know the story or whether they parted ways amicably?
Lotuff & Clegg was founded in 2009 after a dinner in Fall River, Massachusetts attended by Frank Clegg, Joe Lotuff and a leather tanner who is a mutual associate.
The long held goal I shared was one of creating and selling a "best quality" collection of handmade leather goods with a Made in USA label. The production to be overseen and supported by a manufacturer who was a true stakeholder in the business. Our tanner would assist in creating unique leather that would then be used to craft the great leather goods that couldn't be found in todays marketplace - ones that would last for decades from a company with old-fashioned values. Not the most prudent idea at first glance. We believed that we could overcome the initial challenges and make something to be proud of.
The Lotuff side was to provide financing, marketing, sales, and back office support. Also to control: brand management, corporate DNA, creative execution and design. Our leather guy was to provide the best vegetable tanned leather he could. Mr. Clegg was to control production and quality, expand the workshop as necessary, present designs, make patterns and contribute his expertise. Together, we designed, made patterns, and then had dyes cast.
After approving the leather our team began production, printed brochures, built our website, hired additional employees and went on the road with the collection - hosting scotch and leather trunk shows form Boston to Charleston. A new company was opened for business, we sold some bags to friends and family, registered the name and logo. The deal to provide Clegg with significant equity interest in all assets of Lotuff & Clegg in exchange for the service outlined above was sealed with a handshake.
We struggled for some time, finally our work began to pay off. The Lotuff & Clegg name started finding itself in certain circles. As we found some success, the Lotuff side was interested in achieving two goals for the young company: to grow production capacity and to formalize the equity agreement with Clegg. While attempting to achieve these two goals it became clear that Clegg would prefer a different path.
On or about October 25, 2011 - quite some time from todays date but only about 10 days after my first post on this subject (see above) - Clegg formally indicated to me he no longer wanted to work with Lotuff and refused us access to his factory with about a 200-piece order backlog. We seemingly had no way to honor the holiday delivery to friends, Family and new customers trying our company for the first time. We had nothing as far as he or the rest of the world was concerned, except our commitment to our customers and our family name on the label.
This was a long time coming, and looking back now, it all makes sense. It was clear when we placed our product in certain stores and publications : Clegg believed strongly that the deal he struck earlier could be improved. If that did not work, then they could go it on their own. To be fair, we can be demanding, prickly and overwhelming - particularly if we think we can be helpful. We had assembled our core team by then and the production demands had grown. Clegg was still contracting for other designers and it was difficult to get our items out in a way that was satisfying to our customers.
In the hope of finding a reasonable and improved working dynamic, we offered to help by moving some work to our long time associates. This world renowned workshop could help relieve pressure and satisfy customers expectations. This workshop enhanced the reputation of our company because of the quality of product and reliability of service they provide. Supplementing production would result in better customer service and more growth opportunities. Initially, Cleggs agreed.
I will readily admit that Clegg was supposed to control production. So, in some way, we were over eager and perhaps we overstepped a bit by aggressively trying to help. We felt action was necessary to honor commitments made. Perhaps we could have revalued the deal. Looking back, by that time, things had deteriorated to the point that it was possible no deal would be done. It is fair to say that we all have different ways of doing things. In the end, the TRUST went away and the whole thing fractured. The fact is that Clegg could not or would not fulfill his manufacturing commitment to us. It was a hard time and our life's work was in jeopardy.
Our long time associates, an exemplary team of craftspeople on the Connecticut coast, worked hard with us to fulfill every order with care. This work averted crisis and kept the dream alive. Today we produce together some of the finest leather goods I have seen, items I am proud to put my name on and show to my friends. Needless to say, we are lucky and grateful to be working together still. We did work for some time producing Lotuff & Clegg products, producing in Connecticut the 200 and some odd pieces promised, still hoping to patch things up with Clegg.
Shortly after Clegg locked us out, he launched his own online shop using the Lotuff concept, producing similar pieces at a lower price. In hindsight, it is clear that he saw the success of Lotuff & Clegg and knew he could make the pieces. He also knew that they now had a base, audience, and name recognition that we mistakenly spent almost three years and significant savings building for him.
I would like to make one thing clear to my friends, customers and particularly my family: the intimation that we have conceptually stolen or copied Mr Clegg is entirely false. We have every legal and ethical right to manufacture and sell any product that was manufactured and sold by Lotuff & Clegg.
Since the split we have continued our enterprise while respecting Clegg's desires (exhibit a). To this point we have not gone public with the details of our separation as we want Lotuff Leather and Mr. Cleggs new brand to be judged on the thoughtfulness and quality of the items made. We are from a manufacturing family, so we understand and respect Mr Clegg desire to work with his children. However, we are not at all comfortable with the whisper that we somehow have stolen Clegg designs. I know Clegg thinks they are his designs, but they are not, We definitely collaborated and the designs in the Lotuff & Clegg collection were requested, specified, detailed, corrected, modified, edited, bought and paid for by me specifically for use on my site with my label.
It was a long time ago really, that Clegg sealed his fate with us. What you see at lotuffleather.com today is the result of 16 months of work by three multi-generational American manufacturing families and a team of rock-and-rollers with well over a century of experience. We are all determined and dedicated to make the best we can in the USA. Look at us sixteen months from now and you will see a continued evolution.
Lotuff Leather is still working to create the best leather goods around, and to faithfully execute on our original concept: items that are beautifully crafted in America to stand the test of time. We are empowering our team, the absolute best in the business, to take pride in work well done with no compromise. We are contributing by expecting all best efforts and supporting conservative growth. We want hard won knowledge and experience to survive as legacy, and we do this by teaching the eager and determined a way to thrive. Now more than ever we are achieving our goal and we remain grateful for your support.
All the "Lotuff and Clegg" bags were designed by my father some decades ago.... except the iPad cases... which he still designed in 2009-2010. Most of the bag designs go back to the 70's. Here is an example of the lock briefcase which my father made for Cole Hann for nearly 7 years in the early 1990's.....when Lotuff was non existent.
How could this be?
There is much more to the story everyone. It seems like the "movies" are always different then the "books."
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Edited by Ian Clegg - 6/5/13 at 11:51am
I've had the honor of working out of the shop at Frank Clegg Leatherworks. Specifically, working with Frank Clegg and his sons. I am one of the designers that Joe Lotuff mentions Frank "contracting" with. Frank opened his doors to me and continues to help me learn the leather craft. It's really unimaginable how much Frank knows about leather, design, construction, pattern making, etc. He's been making leather goods with his own two hands for over 35 years and has one of the most brilliant minds I have ever encountered. He's also hands down the most generous person I know. It's truly unfortunate that some people in life find ways to take advantage of the good nature of others.