Like many other people, I’m really starting to appreciate the finer quality of bags made by lesser known leather companies. These are usually very small teams, often siblings or even just one guy, who have a real passion for crafting leather goods, with knowledge either passed from generation to generation or learned first hand from years of apprenticeship. They don’t do ads, they don’t have big budgets, nor do they have crazy fancy designs, but their bags are simple classics with quality that speak for themselves. Since these guys don’t have the resources to really market themselves, it may be hard to discover them, so here are some that I’ve found that I really love.
Billykirk Leather Tote
Started by brothers Chris and Kirk in LA back in 1999, these guys are still hand-crafting all of their bags. Their mission is to make bags that get better with age, using leather sourced from Pennsylvania-based Amish leather crafters.
Their leather has such a raw, vintage vibe to it. So much character in one bag, it makes me want to stare and pet this bag all day long. It’s easy to tell this is the kind of leather bag that will only get more beautiful with age. Get yours here for $320 from Eastdane.
Lotuff Working Tote
Founded by brothers Joe and Rick Lotuff, Lotuff is a company rooted in New England. Taught by their father and grandfather to focus only on quality, the Lotuffs drive that motto home in their workshops. There is no quota for their craftsmen, who take as much time as needed to make the best bag they possibly can. If you love their bags, they do have multiple colors to choose from and they can be monogrammed. Get their classic Working Tote here.
J. W. Hulme Excursion Handbag
J. W. Hulme is probably one of my favorite designer / leather companies. Their leather is thick and chewy, with natural veins and striations that just add character to their bags. Their colors are also super saturated and they use absolutely amazing classic colors. If I could choose to fill my closet with bags from only one company, I’d probably choose them. These are bags that will last a lifetime and will definitely age beautifully. I love their Excursion Tote in both the Saddle Heritage Leather and American Heritage Leather.
I mean, look at that leather/color! Ahhh. I love it. I want every bag they make in this leather. If you also love it, you can get the Excursion handbag in American Heritage Leather here or in Saddle here. But wait…there’s more! Perhaps what they’re most famous for is their Legacy collection; these adorable crossbody bags also come in the same gorgeous leather and variety of colors, and they’re all TDF.
Isn’t that gorgeous? They come in a variety of sizes, including this adorable mini size. Explore the entire J. W. Hulme Legacy Collection here. If you’d also like just your classic tote, they produced one also for Brooks Brothers. The leather looks just as delicious on it.
Get it here from Brooks Brothers.
Whipping Post Vintage Tote Bag
Ryan from the Whipping Post only makes the 3 classic bag styles — this tote, a messenger bag, and a duffle bag. The leather he uses has a beautiful vintagey character to it, and the color saturation is delicious. I love that he added little extra details to the classic tote bag, like the slightly darker bag handles and those golden studs on both sides.
Practical and beautiful. Get it here for $175 from whippingpost.com. Don’t forget to check out the Whipping Post Messenger bag as well, which is actually what drew me to the brand to begin with.
There’re really no words needed. Just look at that picture. That leather. That color. I’m drooling already. I don’t care that it’s apparently meant for men; this is a stunning bag and I’d take it over my Mulberry Oak Alexa any day. When I head back to the US, this will be the first bag on my list. Get it here for $265.