About Rugged Minimalist
Our story is simple, we wanted to create a company with handmade products we could be proud of: Heirloom quality goods made with the best materials and built to be passed to subsequent generations. We believe life is an adventure and the products we choose should help us along the way, not slow us down. We strive to make great looking products that are useful and fulfill a purpose. To that end, every decision we make about materials focuses on longevity, utility, and design.
About Our Designs:
Our goal is to create products reminiscent of the past, but with modern clean lines not based on any current trends or fashions. Instead, we focus on styles that will never look dated. Bags and accessories that do not feel out of place in the office, on a plane, or in the woods.
Our Attention To Detail
Every product we carry is handmade to order in America with careful attention paid to detail throughout the process. The tools we use could have been found in a workshop a hundred years ago. Before shipping out an item, every piece is closely inspected for quality and construction.
About Our Materials
If your going to make leather bags, it’s important to get the leather part right. That is why we have chosen full grain vegetable tanned bridle leather from the oldest tannery in America and one of the most respected tanneries in the world.
- Full Grain A single hide of leather can be split many times. The farther away from the top, the weaker (and less expensive) it gets. Full grain leather is the top most layer and therefore the strongest. It is also the most beautiful because all the natural characteristics of the leather are retained. We use thick, full grain leather. Instead of lining our bags, we have the tannery smooth and finish the underside of the leather. We think it looks better, and there is no lining to rip and fall apart.
- Vegetable Tanned There are two main methods tanneries use to manufacture leather. Chromium tanned leather represents about 85 to 90 percent of finished leather out there. Most companies use this leather because it costs less to process and can take as little as one day to produce. The downside is that the harsh chemicals required to produce chromium leather are terrible for the environment. You also lose much of the natural beauty and strength of the leather using this method. Vegetable tanned leather in contrast is an older, stronger, much more labor intensive method of tanning leather, requiring more skill and time. It can take as long as 40 to 60 days to complete a hide. It is better for the environment as well; only natural ingredients are used in the tanning process. Another major upside to vegetable tanned leather is in how it ages. It is a more natural process that over time will produce a patina that makes each piece unique and completely your own.
- Bridle Bridle leather, as the name implies, was originally used to create horse bridles. Bridle leather is a vegetable tanned leather that is made using a variety of oils and waxes which makes it resilient, holding up well against the elements and better than plain untreated vegetable tanned leather. The process to create bridle leather is very labor intensive, but the end result is a smooth, flexible leather that is incredibly durable and easier to maintain. We chose bridle leather for its long history of strength, overall quality, resilience against the elements, and beauty that only gets better with age.
We use only solid brass and stainless steel hardware. Hardware is one of the most common repairs needed on bags. By using only high quality solid brass and stainless steel, we are able to mitigate the need for repairs even decades down the road. Our hardware comes in four great looking finishes; antique brass, brass, nickel matte, and nickel. All come with a hand polished finish and look great with any of our choices in leather colors.
Two great options for sewing leather are nylon and polyester. Both are strong and do a great job withstanding wear and tear. Nylon, however, is more susceptible to UV light from the sun and can weaken over time. We chose polyester thread for our bags both for its strength and its ability to withstand UV light.
On some of our smaller products we hand stitch using Au Chinois Waxed Linen Thread. The French company that produces this thread is one of the few remaining manufacturers of linen thread in the world and has been doing so for over a hundred years. Used by many very high end brands, this thread is very strong and looks great.
Edging and Burnishing
This is something you do not often hear about when looking for a great bag. That’s because it’s rarely done to a point worth mentioning. Most manufactures using thick leather like we do simply do not do anything at all. We do it the old way. Using a tool specific to leather working called an edger, we go over the entire piece by hand, beveling a small strip of leather from each side of the edge, creating a subtle roundness. Once that step is complete, we dampen the edges with saddle soap and run it through a machine called a burnisher, essentially a grooved wheel that spins up to a couple thousand rpm’s. The burnisher creates heat on the edge, binding any loose fibers together. After that is finished, we go over the edges again with a beeswax blend and repeat the burnishing process all over. It can take time to do well, but we feel it is worth it. With more care and attention paid to the details, not only does the final product look better, but it is better protected.