For those unfamiliar, Chester Mox produces handmade leathergoods out of Southern California. There are two co-owners -- a husband and wife team -- where the wife produces all the orders by hand. She graduated from an apprenticeship program a few years ago, where she was trained by a former Hermes craftsperson. I thought their company offered a good value before her apprenticeship, but the quality now is on a different level.
Here are some photos from a recent commission: a bespoke, fully handstitched folio made from black boxcalf. I wanted something I could use to carry a laptop and book, or perhaps a laptop and charger, without the weight of a full briefcase. Basically something to take to meetings or a cafe.
Some photos of the process:
We started with a sketch. Mine was a pretty basic design, except I wanted a small tab for the closure, so that I could easily pull the flap into the locking space. Getting the width of the folio was a bit trickier, as I had to guesstimate how much room would be needed for a laptop and charger. Ended up working out in the end since the middle of the folio has a bit of flexibility (even if boxcalf is stiff).
The leather is then handcut to avoid any imperfections; the edges skived to give the seams a lower profile; and next to the seams, Bellanie scores the leather with a fileteuse manuelle to give the folio a more finished and finely detailed appearance.
After that, everything is hand saddle-stitched, such that two needles pass through the same hole, which is created with a pricking iron. This creates a more secure seam, where the pressure is put on the leather (rather than the stitching) and such that, if one part of the seam were to break, the whole thing won't unravel.
Hardware is then attached. I asked for a matte, brushed silver lock to contrast against the black leather. They have brass options too, as well as dozens of styles.
I'm told the trickiest part of making a folio is attaching the gussets.
One of the things I've come to appreciate is how nice good saddle stitching looks. When leather is machine-sewn, you get this straightaway seam, where each of the stitches line up next to each other like dotted lines. Same goes for basic handstitched goods.
Bellanie's saddle stitching, however, has slightly angled stitches, which is the same as what you'd get from Hermes or niche, high-end makers such as Ortus (the Japanese line carried at The Armoury). Supposedly, Hermes tests the skills of their new craftspeople by having them stitch boxcalf.
(If you ever buy Hermes second hand, look for stitching like this, as it can be a good sign of whether or not something is counterfeit).
The edges are also finished better than the things I've bought from other makers. Although there are two pieces of leather here, they blend into one. No paint drips or uneven coatings.
Interior is lined with grey Alcantara, a suede-like material, to protect electronics. Hard to tell in this photo, but the flap is also backed with black Rusticalf (a leather from Tannery D'Annonay), which is much softer than the boxcalf used for the exterior.
And finally, the clochette. The "bell" draws down to protect the key.
The thing I like most about the case: the weight. It's incredibly light, but still holds its shape well. The lock also doesn't have any sharp corners, unlike my Glenroyal briefcase, which means it doesn't scratch itself every time I try to close it.
Note: I paid full price for this folio and I'm not receiving anything in exchange for creating this thread. Much like my thread on Nicholas Templeman (a bespoke shoemaker), I'm starting it so that a small-house maker can receive more attention for what I think is exceptionally good work.
If anyone has stuff from Chester Mox, feel free to post in this thread.
- The company's website: https://www.chestermox.com/
- Their blog: http://www.chestermox.com/blog
- Their Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chestermox/?hl=en
Edited by dieworkwear - 7/11/16 at 9:06pm