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Tailor-made Leather Goods

William Kissel

When Joe Lotuff and Frank Clegg launched their joint-signature leather-goods label this past spring, the Massachusetts natives did so with the idea of stripping down the logos, linings, and ornamentations that define most luxury bags, wallets, and briefcases to uncover the true craftsmanship within.  Like Sheetrock used to cover the electrical and plumbing behind house walls, synthetic and organic linings in leather goods can be used to disguise a myriad of manufacturing flaws and skin imperfections, says Lotuff in explaining the unvarnished interior of most Lotuff & Clegg leathers.  “We’re not trying to be luxury in the sense of selling something expensive.  Instead we wanted everything we produce to be simple, unadorned, and unlined so when you open it up you can see everything, warts and all,” he says.

Perhaps the most visible detail is the precision needlework used in the production of every piece. “We run the needle over the edge and back again because if you run it through the edge, as most leather-goods makers do, the needle will create a tear and an eventual weakness in the product,” explains Lotuff, who sold a lucrative mass-market blanket business before joining forces with Frank Clegg, a second- generation leather craftsman.  Now working from Clegg’s Fall River, Massachusetts, factory that once produced leather goods for Cole Haan and Alden, among others, Lotuff & Clegg is staffed by four artisan craftsmen who produce every bag, briefcase, and wallet by hand, and the thoughtful details are evident.  For instance the brand’s signature carry-all ($1,300) is made of vegetable-dyed tumbled calfskin leather—or exotics on demand—and features a six-layer folded leather handle and sturdy brass buckle straps. Dopp kits ($290) are slightly oversized to accommodate full-size toiletries; passport wallets ($350) incorporate seven overlapping diagonal slots to hold credit and frequent-traveler cards; and wallets ($200) are made with leather folded inside to create an interior finish equal to the exterior. Nearly every piece in the collection can also be personalized in your choice of color, detail, or skin for an additional charge. (888.763.2247, www.lotuffclegg.com)

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Photo by John Pangilinan
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