Nothing beats a great leather bag. Especially one designed and made in our own little region of the world. Lotuff Leather has built a fine reputation on making well crafted leather goods right here in New England. I had the opportunity to do a Q&A with Joe Lotuff and get the insider scope on what inspires the brand, what being a New England based company means to them, and their commitment to offering a lifetime guarantee on their products.
Q. Tell me a little about the history and tradition of Lotuff Leather (and maybe a bit about its ties to New England).
A. I started this company because I was seeking something I could not find – well-proportioned leather items of high-quality materials, impeccable craftsmanship, and subtle appearance.
My brother and I are third generation New England manufacturers. We learned early to value quality as a key differentiator. We’ve discovered we could work to produce things of value – briefcases and leather bags of the quality and nature that we’ve come to expect from other fine things. Our deepest ties are to central Massachusetts, where both of our grandfathers were American manufacturers.
Q. How do you guarantee quality and craftsmanship for your customers?
A. In order to achieve our guarantee of quality and craftsmanship, we establish standards, techniques, and methods that have been proven over time to work.
We enable and encourage our team to do the very best they can, and we work with people who want to be proud of the items they produce. It is crucial that they do their very best without the constraints of time or quotas. We apply this philosophy throughout the entire process – from designing each product to tanning the leather to constructing each bag in our workshop. There is no satisfaction or confidence until we know we’ve achieved the desired result.
We all grew up in New England surrounded by frugal Yankees who never like to throw anything away. Therefore quality in materials, design, and construction must be top notch. When one of our items needs to be repaired after some time and wear we are happy to do so. It is much better to repair than to replace. We believe our items are thoughtful purchases that will conserve resources because of their extended useful life and easy maintenance. The items we make enhance life through the richness of their materials and the function of their design.
Q. What is your best selling design and can you elaborate on the design and production process that goes into it?
A. Our English Briefcase seems to have hit the right chord with people. It is inspired by the English schoolboy book bag or the briefcase in that favorite picture of your grandfather. We see it as a bag you might give to your son and then his son or daughter will “borrow” it. Like all of our items, it is made using our sumptuous vegetable-tanned leather. It’s a balanced, useful, and masterfully crafted piece.
Q. Silhouettes are timeless – what are the main inspirations for the designs?
A. We embrace the golden rule of classic proportion and modern functionality. Because they are so traditional and seemingly simple, you really don’t see them around much anymore. It’s a constant recreation of ours to look into the past and find things that appeal to us, whether it’s a cowboy saddlebag, a pilot’s case, or an old portfolio.
We gain inspiration from New England sporting life, the American West, and the items used by American leaders to shape, protect and enjoy this Republic. I like to imagine Teddy Roosevelt and his band of surveyors carrying something similar to one of our bags as they made their way across Wyoming and Montana seeking to preserve vast tracts of untouched land. And at the same time, I see Teddy during his Harvard days walking around Cambridge with our English Briefcase. It’s that mix of New England heritage and the Western frontier with a fresh ‘can do’ spirit that really appeals to our sense of aesthetic and actually inspires what we do.
We’ve also got a bit of a rebellious spirit. It comes from being bold enough to maintain traditions and doing things the way they don’t do them anymore.
Q. Lotuff Leather is made in America. Why is it important and in what ways does it define the brand?
A. As sons of a family that has made in America for three generations, it is of the utmost importance to continue that tradition. We are disappointed with the condition of American manufacturing and the volume of inferior products imported into this country. In essence, we are betting on the American craftsman. By doing so, we hope to inspire others to be proud of an American job well done. In a small way, we hope to make a positive impact on our associates’ lives and, through them, their families, our community and, ultimately, our country.
PS Head over to Facebook and “like” the Lotuff Leather fan page. They’ll be giving away a duffle once they hit 1,000 likes!