Thursday, December 3, 2015

Will Leather Goods'
legacy store occupies some 9,000 square feet in the heart of Detroit, and
while the brand's strain of Americana and forgotten soul mirrors that of the
Motor City, one doesn't need to be familiar with Detroit to understand the
appeal of Will Leather Goods' wares.
There are stores in Venice, California;
Eugene, Oregon and nearby Portland.
Inside the Detroit flagship, a leather hide is branded with the company's
credo: to "make products to inspire your journey." With that in mind, T+L
sat down with Will to talk about his travel style, the inspiration he gets
from being from Detroit, and what it's like to work with artisans across the
David Lewinski
Q. You grew up in Detroit, what inspired you to come back? A.
memories of Detroit are extremely positive and extremely powerful.
When I was
growing up in the late '50s, early '60s, it was one of three cities in
America that were great.
It was always New York, Chicago and Detroit.
I lived
in a blue-collar neighborhood where there was a mix of a lot of different
people from all over the world.
People were going to the Ford, Chevy, and
Chrysler factories, the first shift started at 6 o'clock in the morning so
people were waking up at 5 and I would hear the roar of engines.
When I was 8 years old I started going with my older brother on a bus from
the northwest side of Detroit to what they call the Motown Review, at the Fox
At that point, I was seeing acts like Stevie Wonder, The Supremes,
The Temptations, The Four Tops when they were beginning in their career.
When I was living in Detroit, there was 2.5 million people living in the
Now there are less than 500,000.
So there's a big upsurge especially
in the area where our store is, Midtown.
You've got some cool, great brands
like Shinola, Fellow Barber and this new restaurant Selden Standard.
They were
so welcoming.
How does travel influence your work? A.
We say that people who
appreciate Will Leather Goods enjoy traveling over vacationing.
There is a big
difference, vacation you like to go sit by a pool or an ocean and have a drink
and relax.
Traveling you want to get into the culture, the people and you want
to get into the uniqueness of places.
From a young age, I have been interested in newness—and I use that as a
lens when [meeting with] artisans [and discovering] new materials.
example,] we have developed a relationship with some weavers in Oaxaca who are
making these rugs.
We've learned how to take the rugs and laminate them in a
certain way for our bags.
Traveling to these places, you really get into the
workshop of these artisans; you really get into the culture of these
I'm traveling to Bali, to Africa, to parts of Indonesia to parts of
Japan where we make products, to Thailand where we get materials.
It's not
bullshit; we are really working with worldwide Artisans.
When it comes to bags, what's your travel style? A.
Well recently my
personal travel bag is a leather tote.
You can move very quickly with a tote
and you can open it up in a hurry.
When I am going on a more of a business
trip I use the new William collection Guardian bag, a smaller briefcase made
with leather from Tuscany.
David Lewinski
David Lewinski Mariah Tyler is a digital photo editor at
You can follow her on Instagram at @mphbox.
Read on for advice and style tips from the founder of Will
Leather Goods.

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