Wolfram Lohr is the Brighton-based maker championing traceable leather design

Wolfram Lohr is the Brighton-based maker championing traceable leather design

Wolfram Lohr is the Brighton-based maker championing traceable leather design

By Fiona Ward

Wolfram Lohr is a UK-based maker that has managed to remain decidedly homegrown in its ethos while growing a steady and loyal customer base – thanks to the slow fashion focus of its eponymous founder and designer.

Having moved to the UK from Karlsruhe, Germany in the late nineties to learn the craft of shoemaking, Wolfram started his accessory range in Brighton in 2003 – later partnering with his wife Sarah Gardner in 2006 to continue growing the business.

Using traceable Italian vegetable-tanned leather, the brand’s go-to is classic bags and wallets – but home accessories such as stationery and hanging plant pot holders have also become signatures.

Early on, it was purely men’s products that Wolfram was focused on. “[At first], I began to make bespoke shoes and spats for customers; the shoes were quite specialist so I started to make bags, belts and wallets. I really wanted to offer more choice to men. As it turned out, most of my products are unisex and have a classic and fresh look,” he told Design Nation in a 2018 interview.

Wolfram Lohr pieces have a rustic, utilitarian feel with a modern edge – and all are completely handmade. Taking inspiration from vintage designs has always been important to Wolfram. “I love vintage bags that have a purpose or a particular job,” he said. “I have collected old post bags from Germany and USA, rail bags from England and more. There is a wealth of inspiration in the stuff we used to use.”

The love for leather is clear in every item. “Mostly, our bags are well-structured shapes with clean lines and classic styles,” he says. “We have ventured into softer shaping but still use our characteristically thick leather. The designs are unfussy, emphasising the beauty of the hide. The vegetable tanned leather that we use will age well over time. We love the fact that our bags grow with character, gaining a patina that will be well loved.”

Maintaining a small business using only ethically-sourced leather can have its challenges, though – including having an online store that needs regularly updating. “We sometimes have products with leather colours that have discontinued or we don’t have the leather in stock,” he says. “As we offer a made-to-measure service for some customers, they have to pick from the range that we have [at the time]… Clients are understanding, mostly this does not seem to bother them as we will always offer other options if needed. It’s sometimes disheartening knowing how much work we have to do to keep everything up to date, but it’s the same for every small business.”

The Wolfram Lohr brand is all about championing independent craftsmanship and small batch production – but it’s about passing on that knowledge, too. Wolfram now runs classes and courses for members of the public that want to learn about leatherwork, including making their own bags, wallets or belts.

Whether it’s a colourfully-stitched ‘star’ belt or a timeless turn-lock crossbody bag, Wolfram’s designs certainly have a longevity ethos in mind. Besides, Wolfram himself is still using his own rucksack, made by himself around 20 years ago – and it’s still going strong.

Find out more here: https://www.wolframlohr.com/