American-made leather accessories are back in a big way.
By Olivia J. Eppley
Cowboys started the leather craze when they sported cuffs to safeguard their wrists from kicking hooves. In the 1980s, heavy metal band members made leather jackets into a benchmark for cool. Nowadays, you don’t have to be an animal herder or a punk rocker to don durable leather goods. Popular then and posh now, American-made brands have revitalized the leather trend in more ways than one.
For travelers, getting the most out of everyday essentials such as an iPad case, backpack or belt is key, and leather is both a durable and stylish choice. “Quality leather looks refined and is associated with luxury,” says James Libby, personal stylist at J.Hilburn. “Plus, leather has this timeless quality about it, which is certainly desirable to someone on the go.”
What’s even more alluring is that many of these accouterments are created right here in the United States. J.Hilburn’s leather belts are custom-made for each order and epitomize the quality craftsmanship that is a long-standing tradition in Texas leather working.
This display of American pride is exactly why Detroit-based Shinola was founded in 2011. With a demand for domestically produced leather goods (ranging from vegetable-tanned forms to repurposed leather scraps) on the rise, the Shinola team recently relocated to a 12,000-square-foot factory where workers craft items like the journal cover for iPad mini, a product that is fully sourced and manufactured in the U.S.
“Leather has an incredibly long history and will last for many years to come,” Libby says. “The pieces are both fashionable and functional. It’s no surprise that leather accessories are experiencing a resurgence right now.”