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Chester Mox Appreciation Thread -- Bespoke, Ready-Made, and MTO Leathergoods

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
Don't think there's a thread on here for Chester Mox. They're one of my favorite leathergoods companies and I thought I'd start an appreciation thread for them.

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.





The results:







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.

Some Links:

Edited by dieworkwear - 7/11/16 at 9:06pm
post #2 of 41
I bought a custom version of their card holder/wallet a couple years back to replace a Vuitton taiga bifold. Very pleased with the overall quality, and the relative value is off the charts IMHO.
post #3 of 41

 I think that I'm in love with this thing:

 

post #4 of 41

Or rather, I think that That model above would look great in this leather:

 

I know that the right answer is "call them", but @dieworkwear do you know if they regularly take requests like this?  And do you know how married they are to having their logo stamped on their products?  

post #5 of 41
I love Chester Mox's work that I have seen. Great stuff. Beautiful edge work stitching and finishing. Been wanting to order something from them for a while.
post #6 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LA Guy View Post

I know that the right answer is "call them", but @dieworkwear
 do you know if they regularly take requests like this?  And do you know how married they are to having their logo stamped on their products?  

Definitely possible. Everything is made upon order (meaning, they don't have anything on stock, so things are made when someone purchases something). That means you can get small changes made at no cost. That includes changing the leather, leaving off the company logo stamp, and getting a monogram (if you wanted one).

I have a card wallet that's similar to that dogleg model. Have had this for years, so it's developed a nice patina. No logo, no monogram. Wallet is made from Barenia leather, which is the same leather you find on Louis Vuitton handles and certain Hermes bags. It's valued for how much it can age over time, although that also means it soaks up oils and water pretty easily. Still, I think mine has aged pretty well.





Here's a good example of what I mean by the quality of the saddle stitching. Nice, tight stitches that are slightly angled. This kind of stitching can only be done by hand.





Here's an eyewear case from RRL. It like the design and leather, but it's a machine-sewn case (obviously necessarily for the scale of RRL's production).






Here's how a hand-sewn, saddle-stitched seam compares to the machine sewn seam. I haven't tried, but I'm told that, if you were to break one of these stitches, you would need special tools to actually pick out the entire seam. The thing won't unravel because of how the stitching is done. A nice durability feature, although I mostly like it for aesthetics and quality of craft.






So yes, basically you can get anything you want. If it's a totally new design, you'll incur a bespoke charge, which will vary depending on the complexity of the job. Small changes such as leaving off the logo and changing the leather, however, is free since everything is made-upon order anyway.
post #7 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dieworkwear View Post


Definitely possible. Everything is made upon order (meaning, they don't have anything on stock, so things are made when someone purchases something). That means you can get small changes made at no cost. That includes changing the leather, leaving off the company logo stamp, and getting a monogram (if you wanted one).

Here's how a hand-sewn, saddle-stitched seam compares to the machine sewn seam. I haven't tried, but I'm told that, if you were to break one of these stitches, you would need special tools to actually pick out the entire seam. The thing won't unravel because of how the stitching is done. A nice durability feature, although I mostly like it for aesthetics and quality of craft.





So yes, basically you can get anything you want. If it's a totally new design, you'll incur a bespoke charge, which will vary depending on the complexity of the job. Small changes such as leaving off the logo and changing the leather, however, is free since everything is made-upon order anyway.

Cool.  Yeah, not obvious from the site at all.  Very good.  I like the Barenia leather, but I like more distinctive looking leathers.  Yeah, for a card holder/wallet, I may wait on it, seeing that I just got a Dasmasquina one, but I like the simplicity of these designs.

 

Re. the stitching, they probably do it using a double running stitch (one in each direction), which is difficult to break, and for obvious reasons, can only be done by hand.   Conceptually, it's simple, but working with leather is a completely different beast.

post #8 of 41
Thread Starter 
Saddle stitching is a little different (assuming by "double running stitch" you mean what's used in embroidery).

Hermes has a somewhat stylized marketing video for it, but it demonstrates the technique well. Here the worker is piercing a hole with an awl and then passing two needles through the same hole. I think Bellanie uses a pricking iron for her work, but the sewing technique is the same.

post #9 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dieworkwear View Post

......two needles pass through the same hole, which is created with a pricking iron.

[quote name="dieworkwear" url="/t/526068/chester-mox-appreciation-thread-bespoke-ready-made-and-mto-leathergoods#post_8503884"
Here the worker is piercing a hole with an awl......I think Bellanie uses a pricking iron for her work,

Pricking irons (the fork-like tool) mark the desired distance of the stitches, but do not cut the actual hole; that's the job of the awl. Pricking irons come in various configurations,6 / 8 / 10 / 12 etc. stitches per inch and you place the tool onto the leather and give it a gentle hammerblow. Each prong will leave a small indentation in the leather which shows where to place the awl.

You do the marking first while the leather is still flat on the workbench.Then you start stitching using the awl, one hole at a time, as you go along.
post #10 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe View Post

Pricking irons (the fork-like tool) mark the desired distance of the stitches, but do not cut the actual hole; that's the job of the awl. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Pricking irons come in various configurations,6 / 8 / 10 / 12 etc. stitches per inch and you place the tool onto the leather and give it a gentle hammerblow. Each prong will leave a small indentation in the leather which shows where to place the awl.

You do the marking first while the leather is still flat on the workbench.Then you start stitching using the awl, one hole at a time, as you go along
.

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for the correction, bengal.
post #11 of 41

Just ran across this while trawling through the briefcase porn thread. Thanks, Derek, for setting this up. For my part, I bought a Chester Mox Compact BiFold off Massdrop last winter and it blew me away entirely with the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail - especially for the price ($89 shipped!). Just FYI, if you purchase on those group buys, Bellanie (the maker) will post progress shots during different steps of the process on the wallets she's making for you, which is a really cool way to connect and see your wallet/bag/whatever take form.

 

Couldn't be more pleased with mine. I just opened up an old review I did of it when I first received it and it's fascinating how it's changed from that time - now it's a little darker and more burnished at the edges, but still beautiful. You can still see the fileteuse lines scored into the leather even though the wallet's had the full weight of my sharp ass on it for months. Here's my review from last November, hope it is useful to some.

 

Can't say enough about Chester Mox - I just wish I had a need for multiple wallets.

post #12 of 41
I, too, am very happy with my Chester Mox purchases. I was a convert from when the shop was called Voodoo. Since all of my purchases are many years old, I can attest that they easily pass the test of time. Here are some of my purchases. All are made of Horween cordovan which they no longer feature as much..

photo 04A4612A_zps0efe519d.jpg

photo 3738946F_zpsafd73c10.jpg

photo C2FBBA96_zps612f04ae.jpg

photo 87795DBB_zps6a36eb64.jpg

photo DB062B32_zps9ad60a57.jpg

photo 3573C004_zps8c320924.jpg

photo 234A9AAA_zpsb6fe72e1.jpg

photo 0EF57773_zpsdb072fa7.jpg

photo E37F3891_zpsf8c69f56.jpg

photo A3FC6874_zps63b29efb.jpg

Yeah, I may have gotten a little carried away. But I don't regret it!
post #13 of 41
Thread Starter 
Thinking about getting another folio from Chester Mox, this time in a more casual color (maybe navy, green, or tan). Bellanie was nice enough to send me some leather swatches.




Can't decide on a design though. Thinking of:

Something like these folded-over strap designs. The first is actually an old Salvatore Ferragmo garment bag; the other a Brooks Brothers briefcase. Mine would obviously be scaled down.




Some sort of tucked-in design, like these card cases from Givenchy and Hermes. Not sure if this would look right in a folio size (it has to be big enough to fit a 13" laptop)




Or something like this 1980s Hermes briefcase (probably without the handle). Kind of similar to the black folio above, but thinner and with a different flap-over cover and lock.

Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, z1.1.0. ||B2

Any thoughts on the designs? Or suggestions for others?
post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dieworkwear View Post

Thinking about getting another folio from Chester Mox, this time in a more casual color (maybe navy, green, or tan). Bellanie was nice enough to send me some leather swatches.




Can't decide on a design though. Thinking of:

Something like these folded-over strap designs. The first is actually an old Salvatore Ferragmo garment bag; the other a Brooks Brothers briefcase. Mine would obviously be scaled down.




Some sort of tucked-in design, like these card cases from Givenchy and Hermes. Not sure if this would look right in a folio size (it has to be big enough to fit a 13" laptop)




Or something like this 1980s Hermes briefcase (probably without the handle). Kind of similar to the black folio above, but thinner and with a different flap-over cover and lock.

Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, z1.1.0. ||B2

Any thoughts on the designs? Or suggestions for others?

I am not sure that the envelope closure type design will work great for a portofolio of 15× 11inch in size (plus or minus). My wife has a little coin pouch like in that style and i cant really imagine it in portofolio size.

I really like this design, but admittedly i am personally biased towards zippers. This one has the function of zippers and looks of locks.







I would love something in that style (with ot without the handle) in the navy waprolux chestermox carries or even in the barenia calf (depending on how dark her gold barenia is, i prefer it on the darker side).

It obviously all depends on what your style is and what you are looking for. Regardless i think the navy waprolux is a great leather for a navy folio case.
Maybe even the navy chevre
Edited by coldinboston - 8/17/16 at 12:17pm
post #15 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by coldinboston View Post

I am not sure that the envelope closure type design will work great for a portofolio of 15× 11inch in size (plus or minus). My wife has a little coin pouch like in that style and i cant really imagine it in portofolio size.

I really like this design, but admittedly i am personally biased towards zippers. This one has the function of zippers and looks of locks.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)





I would love something in that style (with ot without the handle) in the navy waprolux chestermox carries or even in the barenia calf (depending on how dark her gold barenia is, i prefer it on the darker side).

It obviously all depends on what your style is and what you are looking for. Regardless i think the navy waprolux is a great leather for a navy folio case.
Maybe even the navy chevre

Hm, I hadn't thought about zippers. I don't know if they can work with zippers, but what about those old English/ SAB designs?

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