Adorably, durably yours – leather’s beauty is long-term
Find out why leather is the sustainable material of choice...
New columnist Nicola Davies talks us through her five favourite leather buys.
Nicola is a London-based brand strategist and music and culture journalist. She has a lifelong love of leather and enjoys finding second-hand gems online when she can’t reach a thrift store.
“It’s leather, so it will last.” The amount of times my mum repeated this mantra means it will live forever in my psyche. For this reason, I have always thought that if something is leather, it’s well-made, durable, and for clothing, a good insulator. I’ve rationalised many purchases with the belief that leather (or suede) products are worth paying a bit more for, because they will be used for years to come. I have often foregone buying imitation items to spend more on the real thing.
As a result, I own a lot of leather. From bags and shoes to belts and wallets, every piece has a story, and I’m sharing a few of the most special ones with you.
WHISTLES BLACK BIKER JACKET – 2012, UK
Every girl needs a black leather jacket in her wardrobe, at least this was the sentiment in 2012 when I bought mine. The researcher in me had been preparing for this purchase for a while – scouring websites, trying on countless styles and working out which features I did and didn’t want. Finally, I decided the perfect one was at Whistles, which was probably the first place I looked.
But my feelings behind this item are not based on those hours spent choosing it. I bought this jacket with my first pay cheque from my graduate job, making it an instant source of pride. I wore it tirelessly for years and years, dressing down outfits, layering for the cold, in clubs, on holidays, to dinners, to dates – it’s been through a lot. It looks even better now than the day I bought it, and it won’t let me down when it gets plucked from the hanger again.
SMALL RECTANGULAR BACKPACK – 2017, UK
As a brand strategist, I’m usually drawn to established names, but I actually prefer leather goods manufacturers to be under the radar. It makes me feel like I’m getting a better deal, and while brands are usually bought for their quality, if it’s leather, I don’t need further reassurance.
So, when I came across a leather store in a chic London alleyway, there was no question of me walking past. On this occasion, I was looking for a sturdy day bag that would survive rainy London weather and grimey Tube journeys. I already owned a drawstring, black leather backpack, but I wanted something that added a pop of colour to an outfit. That’s when I saw this burgundy, rectangular mini backpack and I knew it was the one.
After establishing that paying in cash offered a discount, a quick trip to the ATM meant the bag was mine. I still wear it most days, the red tone somehow complementing any outfit.
SNAKESKIN EFFECT LEATHER BELT – 2019, COLOMBIA
For the past five years, I’ve taken annual solo trips to somewhere culturally rich and physically distant. In 2019 I went to Colombia, and took a day trip to Guatapé. This is the picturesque town next to Piedra del Peñol, a huge granite rock with hundreds of steps to the summit (worth it for the views and ice-cream).
After the climb, while killing time waiting for my bus home, I wandered the backroads of Guatapé and came across a leather goods seller. Using my conversational Spanish, I managed to establish that the owner made everything he sold – shoes, bags, belts and wallets. I had been looking for a new belt so couldn’t believe my luck when for a very reasonable price, I was able to buy two, which were customised in front of me. One is pale blue, but the one I wear much more often has a snakeskin pattern (made of cow leather). Its brown tone means it goes with most things, and adds texture to any outfit.
MULE SLIPPERS – 2017, ARGENTINA
Argentina has a great reputation for leather goods. So on a trip to Buenos Aires, I sought out the Murillo Street leather district to look for quality pieces. After wandering from store to store and not finding anything that caught my eye, I spotted some slippers amongst the jackets, belts and bags. Not only were they well within my budget, but they were incredibly comfortable and because they were made of leather, I knew they would become even softer. Black on the outside with a brown fur lining, my prediction was correct – they feel more like socks than slippers only a few years later.
ASICS GEL LYTE III – 2015, NEW YORK
At the end of 2015, I was seconded to work in New York for a few months. If you’ve ever been to NYC, you’ll know that walking is the best mode of transportation; you get to know the city, you’re not in standstill traffic, and you are not stuck waiting for crowded Subway trains. As my circle of friends was small to begin with, I spent most free days walking around new neighbourhoods.
On one such occasion, I ventured into NoHo and made a beeline for Kith, the expertly curated sneaker and apparel store. Before it became the shiny, three-floor flagship it is today, the sneakers were displayed along the walls of a low-lit room. I didn’t know as much about sneakers as I do now, but I’m still proud of my choice, a pair of nubuck leather, dark green Asics Gel Lyte IIIs, with a speckled sole and split tongue. I wore them until the snow came, and then most days after that. I ended up moving to New York for two years permanently and although my Kith sneaker collection got bigger, to this day they are still one of my favourite pairs.
I’m very much looking forward to sharing many more thoughts, interviews, and facts with you throughout the year on all things culture, style and leather.
Don’t forget to follow Nicola!
Check out her website: nicolajdavies.com
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