I make high quality leather goods by hand in my secluded floating workshop on the south coast of England under the Victory Leathercraft brand.
Backers of my three previous Kickstarter campaigns have been asking me ‘What’s next?’ Well, after polling them, here it is - The Leatherback leather backpack.
Like all my products, this is a nod to days gone by when products were built to last for generations and were made by hand, with care, pride, skill and craftsmanship, using the finest available materials.
The Leatherback is made from premium full-grain English vegetable tanned leather with nickel-plated solid brass fittings.
Having made several leather bags for my personal use in recent years & been stopped by countless people asking where I bought them, I was finally persuaded to make a ‘production’ leather backpack, but I didn’t want it to be like the hundreds of other nondescript bags on the market.
In many ways this bag is as much a piece of art as a piece of luggage. It has a unique minimalist look yet it’s still a highly practical item, designed & built for use by adventurous travellers, discerning city-workers or active sportspeople of today.
My buyers are very discerning & don’t like to be ‘one of the herd’. This is why I’ve spent an extremely long time perfecting the design of the Leatherback – ensuring it’s not only supremely practical & durable but also visually striking.
A word of caution though – If you’re a frequent traveller, I’m afraid you will probably have to start allowing extra time for passing through airports & stations when carrying this bag as (I’ve already experienced) you’ll be constantly asked about it by fellow passengers & airport staff!
One more thing - owing to the low numbers I have the capacity to produce, you're highly unlikely to ever see anyone else with one.
The backpack can be worn like any other, with its wide, comfortable English bridle leather shoulder straps. It can also be carried by its top carry-handle. Lastly, the shoulder straps can be snapped together end-to-end, giving the option to wear it as a single-strap messenger bag.
The top flap is secured with a special catch that only releases when pinched & pulled upwards. Unlike magnetic catches or traditional snaps, anyone trying to open the bag by tugging at the flap will have no success.
Inside the bag there is a main compartment, a separate compartment big enough for a 15” laptop or tablet, plus a centrally placed smartphone pocket and two pen holders. There is also a leather strap with a trigger-snap on the end for easy retrieval of any keys you might wish to attach, meaning you won't need to rummage around the bottom of the backpack to find them.
Width: 325mm / 12.75in
Height: 450mm / 17.75in
Depth: 140mm / 5.5in
The Leatherback is comfortably within regulation sizing for airline carry-on baggage yet still manages to hold all of the essentials.
Leather – Thick (3mm) vegetable-tanned full grain leather. This leather will look even more appealing over time as it develops its own patina from daily use & abuse. The shoulder straps are made from the same English oak bark tanned bridle leather that I use in my belts.
Hardware – Fittings used are solid brass, sand-cast, hand-finished and nickel-plated in a traditional foundry here in the UK. Super-strong & great looking. Simple and honest with none of those cheap, brittle zinc alloy components used in most bags available in stores, whose plating peels off and starts to look scruffy in no time.
I fully appreciate this bag isn’t going to be within everyone’s price range. Because I make each one personally by hand, that’s inevitable I’m afraid.
The way I approach product design isn't like that of most makers.
Rather than attempting to keep costs down in all areas (compromising on quality of leather & fittings) in order to meet a certain retail price point, I simply select the highest quality materials & the most suitable construction methods in order to make the best products possible.
That said, marketing the bag through this channel rather than through high street retailers means that the price I'm asking here is less than half what it would be priced at in any high-end store in New York, London, Paris or Milan.
Fortunately for me, there is an ever-growing number of discerning consumers worldwide who appreciate the uniqueness, quality and longevity of handmade goods such as these.
I’m always reading between the lines of other campaigns on Kickstarter, curious to see where they’re manufacturing their products, especially those involving leather goods. In a great many campaigns the manufacturing location either isn’t mentioned at all or it’s concealed behind smoke & mirrors by clever use of such phrases as ‘designed in the USA’ when they're actually being made in a low-wage overseas sweatshop.
In contrast, I not only know the tannery where this leather is produced (in an environmentally-friendly way) I also know the foundry (just up the road) where all the hardware is cast. I then make every product personally. It’s a highly-skilled, labour-intensive and time-consuming process.
I could have had my design manufactured in a host of low-wage countries from poor-quality leather and cheap, low-quality hardware. If I chose to do that, the bags could be made & shipped to me for less money per bag than it costs me just to buy the leather here in the UK.
As a result, I could set a much lower selling price & have no cap on the quantity on offer. The thing is – I could never put my name to something like that. I never have & never will. I believe in making heirloom-quality goods that will be around, being used & being loved for generations to come.
A note on the leather I use and leather in general
Leather goods manufacturers use a bewildering range of terms to describe the type of leather their items are made from. Much of the terminology is used to confuse the buyer & conceal the fact that they’re using the cheapest of materials in order to mimimise their manufacturing costs whilst maximising their profits.
Here’s a quick code-breaker, in order from best to worst.
FULL GRAIN LEATHER The absolute best part of a hide is right at the top – the surface layer that has the hair follicles in it. This is the strongest and most durable part of the hide. It will often show signs of things that have happened to the cow during its life – scratches from thorns or barbed-wire, stretch marks, mosquito bites etc. These are natural, they’re a part of life and they simply impart more character to the leather. I only use full grain leather, nothing else will do.
TOP GRAIN LEATHER The second-best part of a hide is known as Top Grain leather. This is leather from near the top layer but it has had the surface sanded away to remove the uppermost layer that has the signs of life – the scratches, bite marks etc. It’s good but it’s not as good as Full Grain because some of the strength (and most of the character) has been removed.
GENUINE LEATHER This comes from the weaker, bottom half of the hide. It's what's left over after the hide has been split horizontally into 2 or more layers & the full-grain part has been removed & used for more premium products. It can have a shiny surface added by painting & polishing, it might even have a texture embossed on it (to make it resemble full grain leather) or it can be left with a suede finish. Much cheaper than Full Grain but it has nowhere near the same character, feel, strength or longevity.
BONDED LEATHER Imagine sweeping up all the leather dust and shavings in the leather workshop, grinding them up and then mixing with glue & pressing into a sheet before painting the surface. This Frankenstein's monster is known as Bonded Leather! It’s not dissimilar to attempting to pass off MDF as real wood.
A note about leather tanning
A quick explanation of the two main types of tanning in use today;
No, not leather that’s been boiled up with carrots & sprouts! Vegetable tanned leather has been tanned by prolonged immersion (usually a period of weeks or months) in vats of water that contain strong infusions made from tree bark and other plant materials. This type of natural tanning is eco-friendly, produces strong, supple leather and has been in use for thousands of years. Unlike chrome-tanned leather, veg-tanned leather develops a character and patina as it ages, meaning it looks better the older it gets! I only use veg tanned leather in my products. Nothing else will do.
This is the most common tanning method in use today. Over 90% of leather is now chrome-tanned. The reason is, it’s quick, requires very little skill and is therefore much cheaper. The disadvantages of the process include such things as… up to 5% of the chromium used remains in the leather after tanning. This has been known to cause allergic reactions in some people. In addition to creating potentially toxic wastewater, some tanneries also produce large amounts of solid waste that contain chromium, including: hide scraps, skins, and excess fats. Toxins from this waste can leach into nearby soil and water supplies, placing nearby residents at risk of contamination.
Some feedback from backers of my three previous campaigns...
- This campaign needs to used as a model on how to run kickstarter. Thank for you committiment in doing what you say your going to do, much need here! I will definitely be a part of your next endeavor, keep me posted! thanks again!
- Just received mine today! omg.. SO GOOD! SMELLS REALLY GOOD!! thanks Peter for your awesome work!
- This has to be an exemplary KS campaign that can serve as a benchmark for all others to follow. The belts are top quality. Solid buckles, and exceptional leather. Looks and feel, without doubt, like a product to last a lifetime and KS pricing is makes it such value for money.
- Its arrived and the finish is just perfect...beautifully made
- Peter, As has come to be expected with your campaigns now a Beautiful belt & buckle & on time, Please keep more of your Leather products coming our way.
- I just got mine it´s just perfect. Thanks Peter very nice job.
- Hi Peter, got my belts and they are perfect, thank you. Let me thank you one more time for these wonderful pieces of British craftsmanship, and I hope this is part of the beginning people will reconsider what kind of products should be supported by buying them and which kind of products shouldn’t!
- The belts have arrived, and are wonderful as promised. The look and feel are perfect, and it does even smell amazing. Very well done, and very happy as a backer.
- Got it! Simply superb! The best belt that I own.
- I could say all kind of nice things but when I opened the delivery this morning my wife asked do they make narrower belts in red leather for women? The ultimate seal of approval.
- Received my belt last week and I would say it has the best leather and workmanship in my collection thus far. Thank you Peter.
- Love it, love it, love it. I am so happy with my belt and hoping I can afford to buy them as Christmas presents.
- A big THANK YOU for those amazing belts! I love them, my wife loves them, as well as anybody I'm showing them to loves them! You did a really nice job there! Hope to see more projects from you and I'll more than certainly be a backer again! Cheers!
- Amazing Wallet, this will last me a lifetime!
- Mine arrived today in tan and it looks, feels and smells fantastic.
- Just got mine today and i can certainly agree that the quality is top notch, this is one healthy piece of leather!
- I have received my wallet today, and I must say the finishing and the quality of leather is a lot higher than I expected. This is truly a well crafted wallet and every care has been put into it's construction. I can feel this has been built to stand the test of time and years of usage.Thanks for the beautiful wallet Peter.
- I got mine today. Thank you very much. It is lovely to own a wallet of true craftsmanship and beauty. I keep taking it out to small the leather. Well done Peter and thanks again.
- Just received my wallet, and wanted to say thank you for a beautiful piece and great craftsmanship. It truly is beautiful. Makes me regret not buying a few more in different colors
- Just received mine. So far I'm loving every single bit of it, even the smell. Incredible job Peter.
- Mine came earlier in the mail today- am absolutely pleased with it. Great quality, pleasant packing and a fantastic smell of leather. Thank you so much for your hard work Peter!
- Just got my wallet today. Really, really, really happy with it. It's excellent work. Thanks so much.
BELTS ARE BACK!
Missed out on my previous leather belt campaigns?
I’ve been asked if I would make my belts available again as rewards in future projects so I’ve decided to try it to see how that goes.
I’ve created separate rewards for the belts but for anyone wanting both a backpack and a belt, just add the price of the belt to your backpack pledge & I’ll know what you want. I’ll contact these backers directly to get their choices of size & colour etc.
The Oak Bark Belt £70 (Saving £20 on normal price) including free worldwide shipping. Made from oak-bark tanned leather in your choice of 3 colours with stainless steel or solid brass buckles.
For full details please see the previous KS campaign page by clicking HERE
The Firefighter Belt £80 (Saving £30 on normal price) including free worldwide shipping. Made from oak-bark tanned leather in your choice of 3 colours with solid brass quick-release buckle.
For full details please see the previous KS campaign page by clicking HERE
Risks and challenges
Having successfully run three previous campaigns, all of which were delivered on time or early, I have no concerns regarding my ability to once again deliver a quality product as promised.
Also, as my suppliers are all local & I have been using them for years, there should be no issues regarding material availability.
- (30 days)