Nice work and very impressive price point’s nstarleather. I especially like your Horween Leather Credit Card Trucker Wallet.
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I would say to make items that are like other Horween products on the market. Trying to create new, unique items is difficult because figuring out what that item is will be half the battle. I mean, you wouldn't make a Horween pencil case simply because it's not available on the market. If you look at Gustin, they're not exactly churning out original leather goods. A lot of the smaller sellers you come across on Etsy are also doing similar items, just in their own unique way. If anything, i'd say your price points are better than most i've come across. So long as your prices are competitive and your products can withstand abuse then you're good to go.
Oh yeah our items can take abuse...we just started doing the "Horween" line but we've been doing many of the same styles for many years. I can't remember ever getting back a wallet or ID case for repair. The only repairs we ever end up doing regularlly are on the handbags and things with zippers, because those eventually wear out.
Actually the Horween is great if you want that name but I'd say that the "standard" products we do will last just as long- and they're about 1/3rd the price...
The providence of leather is always a tough question because it tends to be a global commodity...lots of leather gets its start in South America (Argentinians eat a lot of beef) then gets finished here.
For our products here's the general rundown:
I try to use "Scrap" when I can to keep prices down.
The Standard leathers on the "soft" items like change purses and pouches are scrap from the furniture industry in NC (most upholstery leather is European because they grow their cows bigger and in less harsh environments (less scars)).
The stiff leathers (checkbooks ID cases wallets) can vary depending on the deals I can find. I pick up odd lots and over-runs when I can. The Horween leathers for examples were from a scrap deal I got from Alden shoe and also an odd-lot of hides from Wolverine. Even then, lots of it was Horween, but some of it (top grain suedes) was from the British Tannery CF Stead, a bit more was from the French tannery that does Hermes stuff HAAS, and yet more of it was a nice shiny calf skin that I haven't been able to identify. Thankfully Horween stamps the back enough that I can match up which is theirs (though CXL is unmistakable.)
The embossed Items (135E and 136E) I buy veg-tanned leather from Weaver.
Police Ticketbooks are English Bridle, but it's made here...
For leather I buy straight up, some comes from SB Foot tannery (US) but a my standard colors for checkbook and wallet leathers I have made up come from Le Farc a great tannery in Mexico (the same tannery as Saddleback uses), it's nice leather no question about the quality. Even for that I deal with a USA based "Middle man."
No Prob. I find that if you're dodgy about things like sourcing, people think you've got something to hide. I like to be direct can honest because there is a lot of non-sense info out there today about leather. I saw a blog-post that was on Art of Manliness (about leather jackets) and was then repeated a on others that had some really WRONG things about leather, basically because the maker they interviewed wanted to hype the leather he uses and his techniques and bash anything else. A couple of the most egregious things were:
1. "Genuine leather" is an industry term for leather made from the inner hide. It’s thinner, cheaper, and less durable than top grain or full grain, but it is still made from a whole piece of animal hide..
Nope Genuine means the same thing it means anywhere else- "real" Now, it really doesn't mean much because it can refer to any leather from the best to the worst, but the words Genuine Leather don't really instantly make it an "inferior class of leather" that's thinner and cheaper.
2. Lots of info out there that says "full-grain" is the "end all be all" That it's more durable and generally superior in every way to "Top Grain"
Also not really correct. Some tanneries don't even make this distinction. That's because there is a lot you can do to a hide after it's taken off the animal and there are only 2 distinctions is kind of misleading. You can sand, smooth, stretch, emboss, shrink, paint, dye and do all sorts of things that change the character of a hide- take CXL for example: Yes, it's full grain but it's had a lot of treatment done that make it very different from other "full grain" leathers. As to durability two good examples of uses of "Top Grain" that prove it's really just as durable as full grain:
Footballs are made of embossed top-grain leather. It doesn't get much tougher than that.
Workboots are many times made of new buck, which is a top-grain that's been sanded to give a nude finish and a little "fuzz". Why? because that finish is going to resist scratches better than a shiny top-grain with a finish.
3. Lastly, that leather with a white/blue edge isn't fully tanned and will dry out and wear out, and that's why makers paint the edges of their products.
I hate this one the worst because he's literally bashing other makers who use edge coat, which most of us use to make a product look more finished. Raw edges even if the leather is dark don't look as nice as smooth painted edge. Most of the leather I use is "struck through" as in it's roughly the same color inside as the top, but not fully tanned isn't something I've ever heard of...
The idea that white or blue on the edge makes it not fully tanned is silly- it may not be fully drum dyed, but lots of really really great leathers have white edges.
Examples of great leathers that are white edged:
Shell Cordovan- $100+ per square foot. Has a white edge and a white back.
English Bridle Leather- like most Veg-Tanned stuff it has that "saddle" colored inside and back.
Sorry to rant, I just want to get this info out there!
American made boot of the day: Wesco
Fine quality traditionally crafted super rugged boots made right here in the USA.
And Hear: http://www.bakershoe.com/Products/Category/wesco-boots/ (User friendly site for custom Wesco's--- call and for ask Kyle)
New Wesco's today:
Wesco Review time!
The burlap leather is really nice, thick, and velvety soft: feels like buckskin! Though I will need to put some LP on it so it won’t be so absorbent. It is already starting to show some discoloration and scuffing even though I just got them today so I will be treating them to help seal the leather against heavy staining.
Stitching is awesome; I really like the two tone stitching with the super thick stitch in the middle. It’s a nice artistic detail.
The Vibram 132 sole is fairly light and nicely soft rubber that absorbs a bit of shock when walking. It also has a good amount of grip + awesome tread pattern. The half slip seems to also add a bit of arch support to the otherwise pretty flat sole. It's lower and more block-like than many of the standard soles and this gives the boot a more contemporary, yet very comfortable, feel.
Surprisingly good! I thought that because they didn't have the added piece of leather in the arch like White’s boots do that they wouldn't have any support, but that turned out to be an incorrect assumption. That said, they do have a bit less support than my White’s boots overall, but still very good and much better than I expected.
The steel toe doesn't cut into my toe or anything and is quite comfortable and rugged, but this is achieved by making the boots a bit tall in the toe area which makes them look rather large. More of an observation than anything else.
Fit: The most noticeable thing is the toe is roomy because it's steel, but also the heel fits very snug in a good way.
Good solid boots. The mid-sole (excluding the half slip) seems a bit thinner than my White’s, but quite adequate. I set them next to my White’s smokejumpers and semi-dress boots and they seem to be about comparable. These boots are a little different here and there from what I’m used to, but overall awesome boots.
Closing thoughts: I’m very glad that Wesco is still a small American made/owned company. The quality and construction is very nice, they are comfortable, and really about all I could hope for in a pair of boots. These will not be my last pair of Wesco’s!