The Man Bag

Man BagSometimes it takes a long time for a thing to acquire a name. There are concepts and even material things that affect us every day of our lives, yet go without an agreed-upon name. The reason is that the names are to wordy, not memorable enough, not descriptive enough, or just not right.

Forgive me. I write, so I think about these things.

Almost 30 years ago, when I was just a naive kid fresh out of college in Michigan, I embarked on a round the world tour with $600 and a one-way ticket to London in my pocket. Even back then, $600 wasn’t all that much. When I ran out of money, I was in a place on the Egypt-facing coast of Crete, in Greece. It was half fishing village, half beach hangout for backpackers. All said, it was a pretty nice place to run out of money in – and maybe still is.  A huge plate of sauted shrimp cost about a dollar, we could sleep quite happily on the beach, and bath in a stream that fed the beach from snow covered mountains behind us. And the place was clothing optional, which was a big deal for me, because most of Michigan wasn’t.

One of the reasons my money disappeared was that I had bought a bag in Italy. I wanted something to carry my valuables in besides a weighty backpack. That shoulder bag stayed with me throughout almost an entire year of backpacking, and started me on the bag carrying habit for the rest of my life. I disdained the bulging wallet impression on most guys’ back pockets, and I loved the convenience of having all the stuff I might need with me at all times. That, and the habit of drinking iced-coffee, came back to the Midwest with me.

Eventually, the US caught up. It took a while. European and Japanese men have been carrying bags for a while, but there has not been a commonly accepted English word for them. “Men’s purse,” “shoulder bag,” “tote bag…” none of it stuck. Finally, it seems, we have “man bag.”

Now, if you’re still with me, I’ll talk a little about the Leathercraft Studio man bag. We have been working on one for a while here, and filming. I wanted either a black or chocolate color bag – something dark and stylish. Tony came up with some great chocolate brown leather (I read somewhere that brown is the new black, but that was almost a year ago now. It’s probably already the old black.) We put together a nice mock up of a bag, and filmed it. But the problem is, the stitching and details on the dark leather just don’t come out well on the video. So, for instructional purposes, we are back to the natural light tan leather. Whether you want to run with that color or not, it’s ideal for showing what we are doing. And the technique works whatever color you have.

I’ll slap a few pictures up, so you can see what we mean.

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Brand Names Making Their Own Fakes

Luxury brands are baiting and switching Americans. The brands are made in China and passed off as made in France or Italy.

Gucci and Prada are manufactured in China. Hermès silk scarves are hand finished in Mauritius. And Louis Vuitton will soon build a shoe factory in India.

The “Made in China” label is often hidden in an inside pocket or stamped black on black on the back of a small tag. Some goods are almost entirely made in China, with a few finishing touches, such as buttons, applied in Italy — just enough to earn “Made in Italy” on the label. Or, accommodating factories in China, will sew on the Made in Italy for you.

The story in the New York Times  should make anyone think twice when they pay an outrageous price for a “luxury” handbag made by “artisans.”

This is the culmination of a trend, and high-end shoppers will soon get tired of paying premium prices for the same mass-produced junk that every salesclerk can buy.

This is good news for real leather artisans. People will come around for the real thing, and pay well for it. Better yet, there is little competition, as skilled leatherworking has almost died as an art.

I am convinced that leatherworking, if applied creatively and diligently, will increasingly be a great way to make a living.

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