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The Search For The Perfect, American-made, Leather Bag

Boutiques selling hip shoulder bags seem all the rage these days. Some look rustic enough to take into the woods, some more suited to the streets of Manhattan. With all these offerings, how does an eager consumer judge quality? Herewith, a visit with four contrasting American leather crafting shops. Plus, a story behind the story of leather care.

A Craftsmanship photo essay
Story by TODD OPPENHEIMER
Photography by ROMAIN BLANQUART, SCOTT CHERNIS, SHAWN LINEHAN, and courtesy of L.P. STREIFEL

Made in America? | Craftsmanship Magazine, Spring 2016

There is nothing quite like a fine leather bag—the softness of a fellow animal’s skin; the aroma, in some cases, of a well-controlled, natural tanning process; the solid stitching; and the deep shimmer of a sophisticated, subtle finish. Some leather goods deliver all of these attributes, while some appear to but don’t. Figuring out which is which can be difficult—especially when many leather goods are increasingly sold by elite brand names, with equally elite prices.

Our reverence for those brands began as an acknowledgement of their quality, and in many cases that status is still deserved. But as time has gone on, and the marketing campaigns of these brands have grown, consumers often end up paying for a company’s advertising as much as they do for the bag itself.

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