Leather Craft

Posted July 9, 2016

Here at Modern Icon we believe in and ascribe to many of the same principles that the Greatest Generation did back in the 40’s and 50’s. They believed that if something was worth doing it was worth doing right and we couldn’t agree more. In an industry that seems to make its decisions based on whims, market fluctuations and profit margin we want to do our part to turn back the clock to a simpler time, a time when legacy was valued over financial gain and manufacturers took pride in craftsmanship which showed in the quality of products they created. For better or for worse we suffer from having very strong convictions and that’s reflected in our name. Modern Icon is meant to represent more than just products, it’s meant to represent a brand that people who “know better” and ask questions instead of following the masses can ascribe to. For us being modern icons is a way of life and we believe the best customer is an informed customer and educating people is part of that process. That being said we want you to understand the “why behind the what” for our getting into making all leather leads.

Leather leads have been in use as long as dogs have been domesticated and there are a lot of reasons that people still swear by leather leads today. Leather is naturally more fire resistant than most nylon, it’s supple yet easy to grip, hard wearing, long lasting, easier on the hands and more aesthetically pleasing than synthetics. Leather’s one major con is that it requires proper maintenance to ensure it has a long service life and that one simple fact scares away most. Today’s consumers tend to favor products that are maintenance free and to be fair the patrol officer who is going call to call can’t afford to spend time continuously treating their leather either. As a result of this “maintenance free” trend there have been many attempts to create synthetic “leather” alternatives that combine the best characteristics of leather with modern materials but nothing has provided the best of both worlds. Leather is leather and synthetic is synthetic no matter how you cut, shape, mold, infuse it. So when we decided to create our own line of all leather leads we chose to combine a traditional approach with our no BS design philosophy. That means you won’t be seeing decorative stitching or leather carving. What you will see are clean lines, hand burnished edges and bomb proof construction that’s understated, not overbuilt.

When we release a product we want there to be an unmistakable intent behind it. To us the why behind the what is extremely important and we will never make something without having a solid reason behind it or simply because people asked us to. We would rather recommend another company who is already doing that well. While all of our products to date have been made using synthetic materials we have always had an affinity for leather. Personally, for me, it goes back to my days as a blacksmith apprentice and the love and appreciation that I developed for working with elemental materials. There is something about the simplicity of natural materials that lends itself to the creation of products that truly reflect the hand of their maker and there’s an honesty to the products that you just don’t find with synthetic materials.

With synthetics it’s easier for manufacturers to hide poor stitch work, design flaws, and short cuts under layers of materials. Having performed a lot of repairs over the years on some of the biggest name brands in the industry, we’re always shocked at what we find when the seam ripping starts. To us the stitching that you will never see should receive as much attention as the stitching that you just can’t hide. With natural materials such as leather you just can’t hide these defects like you can with synthetics. However, just like with anything else these days there are ways to automate the process of manufacturing goods with leather. The difference is to the trained eye and overtime these shortcuts really stick out and become more obvious. To the general population who just need an “off the peg” leash to walk their dog down the street for potty breaks, material selection and construction details may not be that important, but we pride ourselves in serving a much more discerning demographic who we consider icons in our modern age. They have a natural and healthy sense of pride in themselves, their country and the things in their care and they choose to use only the best when able.

With leather there are infinitely more variables than with synthetics because you’re working with a substance that is as varied as nature itself. With leather things that you have to consider include what animal it came from, where the animal is from, what conditions was it subjected to, how old the animal was. Then things get even more varied from there because you then have to look at how it was tanned, was it naturally tanned, which takes longer and generates a material that’s stiffer at first but breaks in nicely over time and tends to last longer, or was it chemically tanned which can take as little as a couple hours and is instantly supple yet tends to lack durability over time. Then there’s a combination tan that claims to offer the best of both words. You also have to consider how the hide was prepared, how much of the flesh side was ground off the hide and how deep into the corium did they go. That determines how loose the “flesh” side will be and may require pasting to keep it from piling over time. There are a lot more variables that go into tanning hides and a lot of it is cloaked in secrecy as companies protect family “recipes” that are generations old, but just note that all of it determines how the leather will feel and function and, most importantly to us, how it will wear over time. Bottom line, all leather isn’t equal and proper material selection is everything.

When we did our market research we found that most companies manufacturing all leather leads focused their attention on the simple use of leather instead of nylon in making a lead. They left edges raw from machine cutting and use leathers that are chemically tanned which give their customers a supple product letting them skip the natural break in process found with naturally tanned leather. Based on what we found these companies goals seemed to be the same as with their nylon leads and that’s to drive price points down to maximize profits and decrease lead times by using cheap materials and mass produced construction. So we made the decisions to be different and create functional works of art that we feel represent the Modern Icon brand and our discerning customers well. We have chosen the highest quality hides from the best US Tanneries in the industry and have chosen to hand make and finish each one using the highest quality craftsmanship and construction. They are not maintenance free and will require attention over time but the result is a longer lasting product that will get better over time and will take on your personality as it breaks in true to the way you use it.

We have chosen to take the path less traveled and we genuinely hope you get the chance to feel the difference.

Our leather products are sold by commission, contact us at [email protected] to find out more about having one of your own commissioned products.