Handcrafted goods- some consider it as unnecessary expense; I consider it a luxe investment. Truth is, with anything bespoke, what you are paying for is the quality that not only lasts but exudes classic elegance. Fact is, you could spend thousands trying to stay ahead of the fashion curve, but a real Monsieur realizes the sartorial mileage of just a few well picked bespoke items can be in your haberdashery.
Thank God for Corter Leather. Like myself, Eric Heins is a man who takes his quality seriously. Corter Leather goods tick all the boxes for hallmarks of quality handcrafted leather – Punched, sewn, carved, dyed, oiled, sealed, and riveted – all by hand. From stitching to braiding and even the color dyeing, Eric spends some 14 to 16 hours a day doing it all by end. Even just writing all of this, it boggles the mind how terribly affordable all this quality is given the amount of work and passion this one man show has put into his product. If Corter Leather bags are not a labour of love, I don’t know what the hell is.
It says even on the webpage, “no machines and electricity are used in the making of the products”- if this statement isn’t marketing hyperbole, it conjures up images of a wizened artisan hunched over a melted wax candle, the lighted wick almost on table’s surface- in terms of style Corter is no pushover to the likes of Billykirk. In terms of affordability, he definitely comes out tops. [Shop here]
The Man Behind Corter Leather
I was lucky to get a quick chat with Eric Heins:
TM: In an age of rampant consumerism and mass production, was there a lofty ideal when you first decided “I will hand-make my goods”?
EH: Nope, just needed a wallet and couldn’t afford one because I was in college, so I made it. Other people started asking to buy them, and Corter was born.
TM: Who was the inspiration for this road taken?
EH: Again- necessity. I didn’t have the money, knowledge, or experience to hire people or factories, so I learned how to make it myself. I grew up teaching myself how to do everything, so this was probably what lead me to where I’m at as a one-man company.
TM: Do you pay attention to any of the designs from luxury ateliers?
EH: I watch the ones that have artisans making things by hand like Hermes, but I don’t look to anyone modern for design trends or anything like that. Leatherwork has a long history, so I usually look to old leather working books for inspiration.
TM: If someone was inspired by your work to try his hand at a profession in handcrafted leather, what would be your advice?
EH: Learn the craft first, make 3-4 wallets a week for a year to practice. If you’re more excited to start a company than to make things out of leather, it’s probably not the best idea. I work many 14-16 hour days, and love (almost) every minute of it, but if you can’t make the same wallet 20 times in a row to practice and get better you’re going to get sick of it fast. If I had to do it all over I’d have waited a bit longer to open the doors to the shop, but I’ve no regrets to opening early and learning along the way.
TM: In this “Occupy” age, does this pay the bills?
EH: Corter has been my full time job since I was 19 or 20- since 2008.
TM: If you weren’t using your own products- are there any brands you swear by?
EH: In all honesty everything I wear gets destroyed pretty fast, so I usually just buy cheap blank tees and generic shorts and work barefoot. I do really love Samurai and Ande Whall for denim, I’ve worn Birkenclogs for 10 years now, and I really like Sugarcane flannels, but I haven’t really bought any fancy clothes in 3 or 4 years now. Oh, and a good antique key ring or two (or three) on my bottle hook, that’s always a must.