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An American Story: The Birth of our Satchel

By Lotuff Leather

“I am so delighted to do this. It has been so long since I have been able to do this,” says Luis as he smooths out the leather front of a piece he just finished.

The whole Lotuff team is crowded together, peering over the pattern maker’s shoulders to watch him wipe the bag down and put it on the desk for its first official viewing. It is a thing of beauty, a fully leather-lined single-gusseted satchel. It stands up tall and proud because Luis has intentionally made it to do just that. A few hours earlier, he was polishing its edges, a delicate process that can go ruinously wrong with one slip of the hand.

Luis has been doing this for years – taking something that exists solely on a piece of paper or a few strips of cardboard and making it into a beautiful, actual piece. He starts with a design and brings it into the realm of the tangible with his hands and his mind. The process requires skill, talent, and experience.

The completion of this particular satchel is cause for Luis to reflect on the changing dynamics of handmade goods. He thinks back on all the time he’s spent in the business of bespoke pieces. A few decades ago, many a pair of pants a man owned had been tailored and sewn especially for him. “Now, people just go to the mall,” he says.

But the opportunity to spend one’s day methodically and thoughtfully creating a piece like no other has once again presented itself to him with this project. It came about when the Lotuff team embarked on the latest design initiative – crafting a satchel that could stand up and wouldn’t droop or sag.

The process turned into a collaborative one. Lindy drew up the designs, and Joe advised on them. They all held court at Luis’ pattern making table a few times a week. If he saw something that wasn’t right, he told them. Certain dimensions were changed - an inch extra here, an inch taken away there - and the solid brass buckled straps were shortened. It wasn't done until it was right, and it wasn't right until everyone knew it was right.

Overall, it has been a study of the intimacy that comes when a piece is made in such a way. Luis and, by extension, the whole team are able to understand the gives and takes, the successes and failures, and the ability to see up close with one’s own eyes and hands what actually works and what doesn't. It is this process that turns something good to great and something disposable into something that lasts. It’s a meaningful process, and it’s why Luis is so delighted to take it on, pattern after pattern, every day.

Shop the leather satchel here.