Lotuff Leather Creates Pieces for a Lifetime
The Providence-based company makes high-end leather bags and accessories.
Inside Lotuff Leather’s workshop, filled with shelving that displays goods like museum masterpieces, leather artisan Fiona Bank uses a clicker press to cut the front of a Triumph briefcase from the most perfect section of hide.
“This is the most important part in forming the whole bag,” says Lotuff creative director and designer Lindy McDonough. “Each section has a number. All thirty pieces have the handbag number written on them. There are separate dies for every part, and every style has different dies.”
The cutting dies, or wooden guides for slicing leather, are custom-made for Lotuff in New York and the leather comes from a family tannery in South America. The leather for the bridle collection is sourced in the United States. “It’s like a puzzle and every hide is different,” says McDonough.
Handbags involve up to thirty pieces of hand-cut vegetable-tanned leather in hues such as electric blue, indigo, smoke, chestnut and more. Third-generation manufacturer and Lotuff cofounder Joe Lotuff and Rhode Island School of Design graduate McDonough work with fifteen team members to handcraft the high-quality leather goods in Providence. Some are also made in Lotuff’s second shop in southwestern Connecticut. “We focus on detail, quality and timelessness,” says Lotuff. “This whole idea of being simple and long-lasting.”
Lotuff follows a minimalist approach with solid colors and clean lines. Some bags sport 1950s Italian deadstock solid cast brass locks, which were later replicated. “We found the original manufacturer for that lock and we remade it,” says McDonough.
Prices range from $400 to $1,900, available on the Lotuff website and Mr. Porter, as well as from retailers Barneys, Shreve, Crump and Low and small boutiques. Bags are guaranteed for life, meaning they’ll last or they can be serviced, repaired or replaced. “It’s a lifetime bag,” says Lotuff, and appearance improves with age. “It’s like a baseball glove or great leather product that actually gets better with time and develops a patina,” he says.
Bags are sold online and in retail locations. Visitors are welcome, by appointment only, at the showroom. 1 Sims Ave., Providence, 888-763-2247, lotuffleather.com
Leather Bifold Wallet, chestnut, $195
Round Pouch, electric blue, $160
The Tripp, red, $490
Leather Working Tote, natural, $750
No. 10 Leather Weekender Bag, chestnut, $1,100