Journal

Billykirk x Uncrate Blackout Collection

Billykirk x Uncrate Blackout Collection

 

For more than ten years, Uncrate has been a leading guide for men looking for stylish gear, travel destinations, and the latest tech. Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to have been featured on their blog. So when they came to us for a custom bag collection, we were happy to oblige. Made up of three of our most classic designs, the Billykirk x Uncrate Blackout Collection was assembled to create the perfect set of bags to get you through a long weekend away.

 

 

Although each bag is perfectly tailored to your everyday carrying needs on its own, when combined they create the ultimate weekend away collection. Our classic No. 165 Small Carryall is the perfect all-purpose companion. It can easily fit a 15" laptop, your favorite book, and all of your daily necessities. The No. 326 Commuter Tote has been refined again and again to become the most versatile tote in our collection . Whether you're sliding your laptop or iPad into the interior laptop sleeve or stuffing the tote for an exciting weekend, rest assured all will be safe for the journey.

 

 

Arguably the most important piece of the Billykirk x Uncrate Blackout Collection, the No. 257 Dopp Kit is the smallest member of the family. It's designed to get you through the weekend and help you look great while doing it. Made from our signature 20-oz. waxed canvas, matte black hardware, and trimmed with luxurious bison leather that softens over time, the Billykirk x Uncrate Collection will stand up to a lifetime of use and only get better with age. To make them even stronger, the bags have been lined with durable Ranger Tan nylon, making it easy to spot everything you’ve stuffed in there and even easier to clean.

 

 

A unique set of travel companions to lend your weekend plans some attitude, the Billykirk x Uncrate Blackout Collection is available here for a limited time!

Photography: Ray Neutron

Taking The Guesswork Out Of Product Customization

Taking The Guesswork Out Of Product Customization

Custom work has long been one of Billykirk's greatest strengths. Whether stamping a tray with initials or sewing up a custom card case at the Pop Up Flea, we've always been fans of personalization. But as a small, primarily online company, we've had a hard time translating our custom options to the Billykirk website.

billykirk custom supplies

Of course, at events like the Pop Up Flea, these personalizations are apparent as you literally see Chris and Kirk make it right in front of you! Different colored threads, leather, and hardware line the table in front of the classic Kingsley Foil Stamping Machine, heated and ready to stamp your initials into a card case or luggage tag of your choice. To make things easier at these events, Chris and Kirk created the first version of Billykirk's custom options:

Simple but extremely effective, this sheet of paper categorized the options you could choose from, including leather color, cording color, snaps color, monogram, foil fonts, and embossing options. This simple sheet evolved into the first online versions of the Custom 155 and 92 Card Cases seen below.

While this finally brought our custom card cases to the web, it didn't provide any sort of visual representation of the finished product. When Billykirk first launched the retail website, sites like NIKEiD and Van's Customs were just gaining traction, and the notion of a smaller company paying for that type of software just wasn't realistic.

A year ago, we decided that the Billykirk website needed a serious facelift (which is live by the way!). With that redesign, we wanted to create a more visual custom product experience. We discussed options and began drafting out ideas that would be feasible and affordable. Looking at other custom sites, 3D renders or real product image overlays seemed great, but they were scary expensive. After almost giving up on the project, our designer Connor and I discovered how we could use Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) instead.

While Connor created the digital illustrations of our 092 Card Case, 155 Card Case, and 146 Luggage Tag, I began working on the code that would allow the user to see the custom options live on the Billykirk website for the first time. The photo of the No 146 Luggage Tag seen above was customized and rendered in real time on its product page, a sight that brings a tear to our sore eyes.

We also began adding visual embossing to our normal product line. This feature overlays your initials directly onto the product in the spot it'll be when you receive your item. Currently it's only on our trays and small leather goods, but stay tuned as we add it to the entire line!

Bringing Billykirk's custom work to life on the web has a been a great opportunity. I hope we'll have the chance to expand the custom line even further with more products. In the meantime, try out the new custom card cases and luggage tag. We’d love to know what you think!

We're Back Folks!

We're Back Folks!

After roughly two years of strong focus on the development and improvement of our line, we're back to tell you about our growth and ongoing mission to create the best leather and canvas accessories possible!
For those of you who may be wondering where we've been since March of 2014, allow us to fill you in.
Billykirk is an ever growing brand, and always will be. We settle for nothing less than the best quality available, which sometimes means big changes. Over the past two years, we've been focusing on improving Billykirk in several ways.
 
Image courtesy of Magnusomme.com

#1 The Market

It's no secret that the marketplace has been changing over the past several years. Wholesale has especially seen large shifts since e-commerce began to take over. Designers and stores need to work together to ensure speed and flexibility, meaning some serious alterations to the ordering process. It isn't an easy thing to reinvent, but we hope to improve the overall shopping experience for our online customers as well as the stores ordering our goods and the folks who shop there.

 

Image courtesy of Horween Leather Co.
 

#2 Leather

Knowing the source and conditions of the tannery and farms producing our skins is something we are very mindful about. At Billykirk we work solely with full-grain leather, which is produced without sanding or buffing away natural marks from the exterior of the hide. This preserves the original appearance of stretch marks and minor scars received through the animal’s life. What some see as imperfection, we view as authentic character. Proudly showing these natural blemishes makes each piece unique and pays respect to the animal from which they came.
This multi-industry process can make it a true challenge to find great quality leather, requiring an incredible amount of care from the farm to our studio.

 

Farmer -> Abattoir -> Hide Supplier -> Tannery -> Designer

 

We're proud to continue our work with several of the finest American tanneries, using U.S. hides and old-world finishing techniques to create among the highest quality leather in the world.
Made to last for at least a lifetime, it may feel stiff at first - but like a good pair of jeans, the leather will develop with use. Growing darker in places handled and softer over time, the accessory becomes entirely unique to its owner. This leads to the individual story of each piece, whether tanned in the sun, stained with coffee, or speckled by rain.

 

If you have a worn a unique Billykirk piece, give us a shout! We're always looking for more well-worn pieces to feature in our social media.
 

#3 Quality

Quality is our backbone. We design every piece to last at least a lifetime. Seams may weather and stitching may fray, but the bag, wallet, or belt as a whole are built to last. Seams and stitching can be repaired and rivets can be re-driven, so rather than strive for the impossible goal of "indestructible," we endeavor to design pieces that develop gracefully. Able to age and be repaired, our goods grow more handsome with each passing year.
We're an all-in American brand. Working with domestic factories steeped in utilitarian tradition, we incorporate their specific skill sets to create the best quality possible. From California to New Jersey (and several places in-between), the craftspeople we partner with employ years of practice in each design.
Admittedly, there aren't many factories making high-quality leather goods in the United States, and those that do exist are often schooled in very specific techniques. This means one manufacturer makes the best handles, one cuts the cleanest belts, and another sets the best zippers. But these limitations have made us who we are. They encourage creative solutions and an understanding of what's available. We stand by our American manufacturers and are proud to do our part in keeping these artisan trade alive.
It certainly isn't the easiest way, but it's the best way.
 
We're excited to reopen this Journal and share stories of our brand and what we're all about with you. Happy trails!
- The Folks at Billykirk

Want to be in our coffee table book?

Want to be in our coffee table book?

To celebrate 15 years of making hand-crafted goods in the USA, we are putting together a coffee table photo book featuring only well-worn Billykirk items.
It's easy!  All you need to do is email us a photo of your item(s) to info@billykirk.com as well as a brief history of the item(s) for a chance to be featured. Belts, Wallets, Card Cases, Satchels, Bags…nothing will be excluded!  Each item will fill an entire 12”x12” page and your name and story will be mentioned below the photo.
If your item(s) is chosen, our friend and professional photographer, Tatsuro Nishimura, will photograph your item(s) in his studio in New Jersey and once it is photographed will be promptly returned to you.
For your participation, you will receive a personalized and signed copy of the book from founders and owners Chris and Kirk Bray.
Looking forward to seeing everyones well-used and well-loved Billykirk goods! See below for some good examples!

Look good, write well: 4 gifts for writers in 2014

Look good, write well: 4 gifts for writers in 2014

The biggest New Year’s resolution for writers (in 2014 and in previous years) is simply to write. Whether 80 words or 8,000 words, daily writing is essential – and it’s something a writer can only do for himself. But I know plenty of loved ones want to find the perfect way to show support of writers in their lives – and fancy pens seem to be the go-to gift. They’re beautiful and functional, but they’re also arguably one of the least practical, most-gifted items given to writers during the holidays. Anyone who enjoys writing - whether prose or correspondence – should own a nice pen, but no more than one really fancy pen is needed.
There are plenty of nice everyday objects that can help organize and inspire the authors and wordsmiths in your midst. As someone who writes and edits upwards of 3,000 words a day, I looked through Billykirk’s online collection and found four beautiful and functional gifts I think any writer would appreciate to start the New Year.
1. The leather journal holder
A welcome alternate to a book with blank pages, this journal holder adds a nice facelift to the notebook your friend is already working her way through. Sized to easily fit in a backpack, purse or satchel, it’s perfecting for jotting down ideas on a train, park bench or wherever inspiration strikes, and a pen will always be handy thanks to its built-in pencil-holding clasp.
2. The schoolboy satchel
The leather schoolboy satchel looks important, but not pretentious. It has a timeless nostalgia, seeming to be something Hemingway or Anne Patchett would wear with equal delight. And it would look smart on anyone who aspires to be professionally creative. With compartments that can easily fit a portfolio or manuscript, a laptop and whatever magazine or book a writer is reading in a given moment, it’s practical - while also a nice way to dress for the job you want.
3. The pencil case
Great to stash in or on a desk, keep in a leather satchel  (ahem, see gift idea No.2) or tuck away somewhere with a reserve of those aforementioned fancy pens. The pencil case is a simple-but-handy gift, unassumingly stylish in worn-in canvas, which also helps absorb the mess of any ink leaks. Plus, someone in a writing profession is always the first person expected to have a writing implement on hand: He’ll always know where to find this case and look super on top of the pen situation.
4. The canvas iPad sleeve
While I’m admittedly not inspired by the thought of writing on tablets, friends are increasingly citing this as the journal of the future. Especially those working as on-the-ground journalists. Many of my friends who write have put iPad sleeves on their wish lists this year, and I think this olive one is a great option. While I also like the Billykirk version available in leather, the canvas one would nicely fit inside a larger satchel – and it still looks good as a standalone carry item.
These are great tools to add to a writers’ kit, and here are some reflections on writing to get pens moving and keyboards tapping in 2014: