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An Article by Steve Collett: The making of Steve Collett Urban & Vintage Leather Products & Accessories Brand

So, the question arises: “How do you start a leather goods brand? Read about Steve Collett’s journey to find out…

Steve Collett founded the brand in 2009.  All his products are manufactured with the highest quality of workmanship as well as the quality leather he uses for his product range, all completely made in South Africa.

“It’s actually critical that the right materials are sourced to produce a top-quality product.” – Steve Collett

Steve talks us through his collaborations with all his manufacturers and suppliers that have made his Urban & Vintage leather brand possible.

In 2009 Steve was inspired by the craftsmanship in various European countries, but specifically, the USA that grabbed his attention that ignited his desire to start producing Urban & Vintage leather-goods which would offer high-quality men and woman’s bags and accessories.

Starting from scratch, with no previous experience in the industry, Steve researched multiple markets both locally and internationally in the leather industry and formed collaborations to make his ideas for Steve Collett Urban & Vintage Leather a reality.

“Starting a new business is a pretty big challenge, but as we understand, a business is only as good as its product. Everything pivots on building relationships between you, the manufacturers, and suppliers which in turn leads to happy customers.” – Steve Collett

The Inspiration

The inspiration for Steve Collett Urban & Vintage Leather came from the back streets of Zimbabwe where Steve was already almost a decade into manufacturing leather furniture that he exported to the USA and a couple of other countries abroad.

It was at that time that he realized that there were so many offcuts that were being wasted and that could go to good use and be re-developed into a new product range and brand, which birthed Steve Collett Urban & Vintage Leather.

Steve started designing and manufacturing a range of Urban & Vintage Leather products starting off with men’s briefcases, satchels, backpacks, and duffel bags.  He also diversified and began creating a range of women’s handbags, purses, and accessories.

All his designs and products carry the theme and Steve Collett’s signature – Urban & Vintage leather reworked into a modern and trendy style that his clients adore!

The Leather

Steve Collett’s focus draws on only using African leather, which due to its unique texture and finish, is quite challenging to work with a lot of the time. The leather’s quality and reputation would need to precede the company used by CWA Leather & Steve Collett Urban & Vintage Leather, and that’s exactly who they found in the long-standing relationships with their suppliers.

When the leather arrives at the workshop kits are usually wet in brown form.  The process of treating the material that Steve uses dates back to the early 1900s.  We still use the same techniques and everyone working within the finishers will handle each piece of leather at least once, taking pride over their work.” – Steve Collett

The process involves a combination of hydration and re-hydration to the leather during tanning and curriering (the finishing techniques, including colouring, after the leather, is tanned).

This is what makes both our main suppliers and partners Zambezi Tanners and Hannitan Leather sourced from Zimbabwe crucial in the manufacture and delivery of our sought after and highest quality of finished leather products and accessories both CWA Leather and our sister company Steve Collett Urban & Vintage Leather produces and supplies to markets both locally in South Africa and the USA. 

With our close-knitted relationships with both suppliers and specifically with their unique craft and expertise at curriering leather hides both Zambezi Tanners & Hannitan Leather hand slick each piece of leather to remove the water content within the fibers and then add, again by hand, a unique paste back into the fibers to strength it during the next production stage. This allows us to fit into one bridle butt leaving next to no wastage. The final design allows up to 90% cutting efficiency per hide.

The strength of the leather combined with the pride in their unique leatherwork is what keeps us loyal to both companies and most importantly maintaining the high standards of workmanship we pride ourselves in and what our loyal clients recognize us for!

The hardware

Next up is assuring that we use a smelting company that produces brass buckles, hooks, chains, rivets, studs, and many more highly polished products offering the best quality products that line up with our brand’s designs, the quality, and the finished product.

The skills of smelting raw metal are usually passed down from generation to generation of workers and this age-old tradition produces royalty-approved results.

Consumers are willing to purchase a product with a premium price tag if they have a story behind the product and brand worth buying into and supporting. The heritage of all the companies that CWA Leather & Steve Collett Urban & Vintage Leather have collaborated with has a highly sought-after heritage and quality that make for an exceptional product.

The Manufacturer

At Steve Collett we make sure we use precise cutting machines that are able to maximise cutting efficiency so that they barely waste any leather. Leather sewing is a technique that takes time to master and we make sure that our in-house production staff receives the best training possible to assure our products always excel and upkeep our reputation.

Through their craftsmanship and skills in skiving, sewing, hand edge coating, and embossing, all parts can come together with a clean, professional finish.

At the final stages in production, the embossed ‘Steve Collett Urban & Vintage’ stamp is used proving true to its name.

A final word from Steve

As a leather artisan and someone who understands the true significance of leather. Being well acquainted with wildlife and their natural habitats and climates also plays a significant role in understanding what types of hides can be used for producing leather goods. This passionate and deep-rooted understanding also gives the necessary edge to the intricate sciences behind the making of leather products and accessories, and the best ways of creating works of art with the different leathers and using the most effective finishes for the product range.

“Behind the scenes we sit, brainstorm, conceptualize and finally design and manufacture our next masterpiece sample; spending days and hours dappling around with the various combination options from colours to finishes, and textures and gauge.

All these design elements and how they are put together into producing a new leather product or accessory whether that be a Travel Bag, a Duffel Bag, a ladies Tote bag, or an electronic devices Carry Bag or Sleeve – whatever it might be, all these stages of producing a leather product are what makes up each brand magical, unique and Steve Collett Urban & Vintage Leather signature, and look and feel.

For any inquiries or place any orders, please send us a direct message at our website – www.stevecollett.com or say hello via email – steve@stevecollett.com or give us a bell on +27 64 845 9177

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Warm Regards,

Steve Collett

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