It’s worth noting that the crowdfunding boom has done three things. It’s empowered the individuals with A. more options, B. brands and products that are more consumer-centric, and C. the ability to make their own products and sell them too, effectively competing with large brands and mass production, and keeping small-scale craftsmen and cottage industries alive.
What I’m truly interested in is option B. The mark of a good crowdfunded product lies in how much value they give to their backers. Prices get lowered because of the new p2p delivery structure, and more importantly, a lot of focus is given to product quality (because that’s the only thing that helps build the brand), so you may notice a lot of good crowdfunded products have a good build quality, and some may even push the envelope and give you a lifetime guarantee!
The Leatherback Leather Backpack is a great example of the aforementioned. Made by Peter Sandford in his workshop on the southern coast of England (under his personal brand Victory England), his backpacks are all personally hand-made using only the finest full-grain leather. Now on his fourth crowdfunding campaign, Peter has amassed a loyal fan-following who swear by the quality of his products and are not customers as much as they are now patrons.
The Leatherback has a beautiful 3D shell design that gives it mass and makes it look practical, unlike most collapsible leather backpacks that tend to be flimsy and gather creases over time. Made entirely out of full-grain vegetable-tanned leather both outside and in, the backpack is compartmentalized beautifully for the different things you carry, and comes with brass-casted nickel-plated hooks and fasteners of simply superior quality. Peter makes each bag meticulously by hand, reviewing the leather used, and making sure each bag boasts of impeccable quality that he can stand by. When you buy a Leatherback backpack, you can rest assured that it was made by the designer himself with his own skilled hands and quality checked with his expert eye.
The Leatherbacks come in veggie-tanned brown and black variants and boast a lifetime guarantee. Useful, minimal, and visually striking, it’s worth noticing that since none of these bags are mass-produced, there’s a chance you’ll never see anyone else own one of these but you!
Designer: Peter Sandford
Click here to Buy Now: $545.00
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.
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.
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.
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 English oak bark tanned bridle leather used in his belts.
Click here to Buy Now: $545.00
A Note on the Leather Peter Uses 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.
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.