ONE TO WATCH AT MARKET WEEK | LOTUFF LEATHER

lotuff-75

Going into market week, I knew wanted to feature a brand I thought was the one to look for—not a group of 10 hopefuls—one exemplary brand.  A few weeks ago, the team behind the New England based luxury bag company, Lotuff, invited me up to their factory in Norwalk, Connecticut and after visiting, I realized I had hit the jackpot. Lutoff has been around for three and a half years and has seen its share of reinventions, and great successes — today, Steven Alan, Barney’s and Bird carry the bags, to name a few. Still, the brand seemed under the radar for most.  So, it was with very little knowledge of the brand, other than its quality reputation, that I accepted the invitation gladly. What I came away with could honestly fill 10 blog posts—not only was process and product exceptional but the people behind it had stories of their own, and conveyed a passion that clearly permeated into all corners of the business. Here, in five parts, I wanted to capture some of that spirit, and the mentality behind the business. It is a company that has it’s priorities and heart in the right spot—something that translates into the quality of each and every bag. Exemplary.  – M

//Shop: lotuffleather.com
//Market Week: Lotuff will be in NYC at PROJECT July, 22 – 24

………………………

— I —
“We believe in old world craftsmanship and a world class team”

Upon walking into the Lotuff factory the first thing you’ll notice are the stacks and stacks of gorgeous tanned leather, that fill the building with that undeniably luxe smell only premium leather has. The second thing you’ll notice are the looks of passion and excitement on the faces of each and every person working. It is immediately clear that premium materials and premium craftsmen are the ingredients to this company’s success. Indeed, when asked what Lotuff’s core values are, Joe Lotuff, co-founder and owner of the brand, responds without missing a beat:
“We believe in old world craftsmanship and world class team. That is how we never compromise on tradition, process and quality.”


Joe Lotuff, co-founder and owner

— II —
“I am in this business because I am addicted to it”

Over the next two hours, I discover just how true Joe’s words about Lotuff are.  As I speak with each member of the Lotuff core team, their endearing obsession with creating premium leather bags. Louis, the head craftsman, traces the beginning of his training to his father’s workshop, who taught him how to count by sorting leather watch straps. Louis worked in the industry for over 50 years, from the 60’s and 70’s when American manufacturing was booming, into the downturn in the 80’s and 90’s, right through today’s recent resurgence of Made in USA pride. Today, he works with Lotuff training his team in techniques rarely seen these days. “I am still in this business”, he says smiling,  “because I am addicted to it”.

Louis, Head Craftsman

— III —
“Same, premium quality inside and out

It’s not just production that happens in the Connecticut workshop – from conception to execution, everything happens under one roof—a rarity, especially in the United States. Between my conversations with them, Louis, head pattern maker and Lindy, creative director, pour over specs and the felted comps they make of every bag. Behind them, local craftsmen hand make each and every piece – from stamping each panel of vegetable dyed leather, to stitching them together on vintage Singer machines, to finishing each edge to ensure an entirely streamlined seams.
A hallmark of Lotuff bags is their signature unlined construction, which I learn from the team is more difficult to execute than anything fully lined.  “Think of an unlined bag like an unconstructed blazer.”Joe says, “There is no lining to cover up any imperfections in the seams. The leather, construction and the finishing needs to be the same, premium quality inside and out.”


Louis, head pattern maker

— IV —
“Menswear mentality to women’s bags

With men’s leather goods firmly under their belt, Lotuff’s next big initiative is women’s bags. The women’s concepts and designs are led by creative director Lindy, and it’s clear she’s not resting on their laurels—she’s pushing the team to literally reinvent their design sensibility while also sticking to their core processes and standards of quality. As she put’s it, “We’re making bags for women, it’s a completely different market, with different customer needs  but we are determined to bring a menswear mentality to women’s bags. We want to make products  for women who understand quality and construction”. (Editor’s Note: Preach, sister.)


Lindy, Creative Director

— V —
“This is the path to the American dream”

At the end of the day, it’s clear there is a singular goal at Lotuff: to create something of unparallelled quality, and exceptional beauty all in the United States. After seeing the techniques used and team behind the brand, I can honestly say they’ve hit the nail on the head. Greg, the brand ambassador who orchestrated my eye opening visit, is a perfect example of how and why Lotuff excels. Greg is recent college graduate, with little experience in leather production, but he touches every part of the business. Based completely on his entrepreneurial spirit and belief in Lotuff’s mission, he has been given the autonomy to grow brand into it’s next iteration. It is clear that there is no pretense or egos here, just smart, elegant, hard work. Joe explains it this way: “I believe every single individual should be empowered to do exactly what they want to do and do it to the best of their ability. This is the path to the American dream.”


Greg, Brand Ambassador/Secret Weapon

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Comments
3 Responses to “ONE TO WATCH AT MARKET WEEK | LOTUFF LEATHER”
  1. Thanks for sharing the info here. Keep up the good work. All the best.

  2. Lovely bags! Great to see another company so dedicated to craftmenship. Fantastic detail in this article and the photographs are fantastic. Love the rich red coloured handbag too.

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