Horween Leather Co. | Chicago, IL

‘Horween stands with an ever-growing amount of people who intend to make their money count. In a world of cheap, quick and “who cares,” here stands a lot of folks who reply, “We do.” 

Read the full story here.
Photo by Grant Legan

Really cool photos here. Go check it out.


Horween Leather Co. | Chicago, IL

‘Horween stands with an ever-growing amount of people who intend to make their money count. In a world of cheap, quick and “who cares,” here stands a lot of folks who reply, “We do.” 

Read the full story here.

Photo by Grant Legan

Really cool photos here. Go check it out.


Review: Santi Leather laptop sleeve

I’ve been looking for a protective sleeve for my MacBook Pro for a long time and just never found the right one. 

Being a picky sort, I had quite a list of requirements, which made it incredibly difficult to find something readily available, within my budget and looked nice. 

For materials, i wanted to stay away from synthetic materials entirely. Most sleeves are lined with or entirely constructed with neoprene, which traps heat. If you own a MacBook Pro, then you know how hot these get. Immediately putting away your laptop into a sleeve will result in the heat being contained inside the sleeve and potentially overheating your computer — even though it’s technically “off”. 

For this reason, I wanted a natural material that wouldn’t overheat the contents like a synthetic might. Also, there’s the added bonus of getting a much more aesthetically-pleasing look from leather or even fabrics like Harris Tweed, wool or canvas. 

Additionally, I still wanted to know that I could place this sleeve inside a briefcase without a padded laptop compartment. Again, most padded laptop compartments in briefcases are synthetic. Also, they’re bulky. I preferred that I could stick this laptop in its sleeve inside either a canvas briefcase like a Filson or unpadded leather briefcase and not worry that the shock of setting the briefcase down on its base would cause damage to the bottom edge of the laptop facing the floor. 

This made me look for sleeves that had sufficient padding in its design along the base edge to act as a shock absorber. This is surprisingly hard — if not impossible — to find in most leather sleeves. If you look at most sleeves out on the market, they just offer a thin layer of leather along the base of the sleeve as the only form of protection. While it may protect from surface scratches, you’re not going to get any shock protection when the laptop is upright in an unpadded briefcase and hits the floor. So, this detail mattered a lot to me.

Furthermore, I wanted some added functionality in the sleeve that didn’t look superfluous. Some extra pockets would be nice and the closure system had to securely keep the laptop inside and not allow any accidental liquids inside if something was poured on top of it. Lots of sleeves have open tops, or zipper tops, which was a no-go for me. 

In the end, I knew I had to seek out someone to custom make me a laptop sleeve that looked great, was made from quality materials and could incorporate all my features I wanted. 

After looking at several leatherworkers on Etsy, I found Santi Leather, who operates out of Spain, who handmakes each item at their home studio and sources their leathers locally. 

I decided to base my modifications off of their 13” MacBook Pro leather sleeve design. It already had many great features that I wanted: a full flap over the top with secure snap closures; an extra pocket in the front to store a pen, phone and small notepad; and a felted interior to give protection against surface scratches on the laptop’s aluminum unibody enclosure. 

Fortunately, Santi Leather is completely open to design modifications. I asked if an open back pocket could be sewn on, to allow me to store some papers, magazine or notepad.

Additionally, I asked to have extra stitching along the bottom base of the sleeve to create a thick portion of leather to ask as a shock absorber. 

These design modifications added another $25 to the final price, which brought the final price with shipping to ~$146. Twenty days later I received the sleeve and I’m absolutely thrilled with it. 

Santi Leather has a whole range of sleeves for every single Apple device, from iPads, to iPhones to MacBooks (Pro and Air). They’ve even introduced a messenger bag

If you’re looking for a similar solution, then I recommend giving Santi Leather a serious look. Working with them was a great experience and they’re totally open to design modifications and ideas. I think their pricing is reasonable given that it’s handmade and the turn-around time (with shipping) is rather impressive. 

Corter shell cordovan guitar picks — A late-arriving Christmas gift for my dad. Worth the wait though!

Corter shell cordovan guitar picks — A late-arriving Christmas gift for my dad. Worth the wait though!


What's the best way to identify quality leather? I know a little, but is this something you learn with time and experience?

- Asked by Anonymous

This isn’t something I’d say I’m an expert in, but I’ll give you a few pointers. 

The first is to read whatever copy is available. If you see something saying it’s made of “polished” leather or “corrected grain” leather, then avoid it. Put This On has a good primer on the difference between these subpar leathers and full-grain leathers. 

For shoes, I think it’s best to just do your initial research on the brand and line. Often, when buying new, a decent pair of shoes made of decent leather will start at around $300 and up — provided these aren’t “designer” pairs. You can do plenty of research on StyleForum. 

Typically though, the best thing you can do is try to get hands-on experience with some of the nicer stuff so that you can compare the quality to lesser stuff. I was at Saks yesterday and it was really easy to tell the difference between the Edward Greens and the To Boot New York shoes — not just in construction, but also of the quality of leather used. 

When it comes to stuff like wallets or belts, I’m admittedly less adept. Ofter though, I think if you can get your hands on the leather and feel it, you should be able to go with your gut on the quality. Still, you should be able to seek out belts and wallets from those who make them with well-known leathers, like those that come from the Horween tannery.

I wish I could give you more solid tips and thorough checklists to go on, but this isn’t exactly my wheelhouse.


David Lane Design

One of the great things about the rise of Internet-based commerce is that you no longer have to go to a department store to buy mass-produced, overly-branded products and deal with a limited selection. Sure, maybe things are cheaper — and it’s fine to be OK with that — but maybe you have an idea in your head about what you want exactly done for an item and the odds of any store stocking such a rare concept is quite slim.

That’s why I love finding small-business operations for things like leather accessories. You can talk directly to the guy (or gal) making your item and see if they’re open to making unique designs or using a certain type of leather or thread.

David Lane Design is one of those places — a one-man shop who started doing custom leather watch straps completely by hand. I hate to use hyperbole, especially after only seeing photos online, but take a look at these watch straps and tell me they’re not beautiful.

Everything is completely customizable: lug width, strap width, strap length, stitching, stitch color, leather used, etc. As you can guess, this kind of customization does come at a high cost, but if you’re the type who can buy a Rolex, then why not spring for an equally impressive strap, too?

Beyond watch straps, other custom leather items are available — including bracelets, a guitar strap cut from a Swedish Gustav K ammunition pouch and now wallets. The wallets range from $77 to $117, depending on the features you want on it. Here’s what David told me in an email about his new wallet design:

I have spent the last 5 years dismantling ammunition pouches and various pieces of military equipment, to construct watch straps for my customers. I have used the design features of these historical pieces to construct a wallet that features the same degree of craftsmanship and purpose driven design. I wanted to create a wallet that performs to the same level and ruggedness as the ammo pouches, yet still simple, aesthetically clean, and functional. I have put my personal wallet through 6 months of research and design, before landing on a final product.

Attached are all examples of the designs I have been working on. They are all completely customizable from the type of hardware and stitch color, to custom initials and edge dye.

The wallet above is David’s personal one he’s used for the past six months. If you’re interested in a wallet, then you can pre-order now by emailing David, who plans to start shipping in November. Each wallet will ship in a burlap sack, a custom crate and a written history of his work.

David also told me that in the future he plans to add other wallet designs, iPhone cases and key chains. I’ll be keeping an eye on his site for the future.

It’s Worn: The Craftsman: An Interview With Hollows Leather — A nice, behind-the-scenes interview from a really great blog you should follow.

It’s Worn: The Craftsman: An Interview With Hollows Leather — A nice, behind-the-scenes interview from a really great blog you should follow.


Craigslist find: McKlein leather briefcase — For quite some time I’d been looking for a briefcase to replace my Trager messenger bag, which I’d used since college. The messenger bag is in great shape and carried everything I needed, however, it’s nylon, street-tech looks clashed heavily with my more business attire.

For a while, it seemed like I was going to end up spending a minimum of $200 on a new briefcase if I went the Filson canvas route. However, I really had my heart set on a brown leather briefcase, just because I really dug the look.

Here’s what I was taking a look at:

Obviously, it was going to be a while before I saved up the cash to purchase something new. So, I’d been keeping my eyes peeled for something used in the meantime. Searching eBay is a terrible pain with so many listings. Cue Craigslist!

I did a basic search for “briefcase” in my city and it turned up a couple of hits. Eventually, I found this McKlein flapover-style briefcase.

The price? Would you believe just $50!

It’s got three compartments inside, plus a zipper magazine pocket on the back. The interior is nylon, which I guess will help with waterproofing (although I’d prefer 100% leather). Best of all, the rear compartment has a padded area for a laptop, which wasn’t on my “must have” feature list, but it’s a nice bonus.

Obviously, it’s seen a bit a wear, but I dig that. The carrying handle is sturdy and the shoulders trap is secure, too. Best of all, it’s not cumbersomely heavy to carry, which is a big plus.

I looked at McKlein’s website to get an idea of what this runs brand new. It’s the Series V Halsted and they’re retailing it for $180. But if you shop around on Google, you can find it for $99 on Overstock.com. Mine’s obviously an older version, as it lacks an extra zipper pocket on the back. Also, I think the leather is a bit darker on mine, but it could be the lighting of their stock photos.

One downside that I discovered today, which is seen in the last picture, is the previous owner polished up the leather a bit recently before selling it and it’s stained my white chinos. Just something to be aware of for those of you who rock white or light-colored clothing along with a treated leather briefcase.

All that said, I’m happy with my purchase. Looks good, functional, cheap and will definitely hold me over until I can throw down for an upgrade. Now, to just work the polish out of my pants.

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

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