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Billykirk


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?

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

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:

New Year's Day Sale: Leather trays, for an organized 2014

Top New Year's resolutions' lists generally include saving money and getting organized. Our No. 309 Leather Change Tray can help de-clutter, store cash and add a stylish new element to your desks or bureaus for the new year. In honor of 2014, we're marking down the price to $20.14 for all orders placed from midnight New Year's Eve to midnight New Year's Day.
Here's a look at some of our discounted leather trays, available while supplies last. Click for full product details:
 
 
Be sure to check out some of our other American-made leather bags, belts and travel carryalls to give you a fresh look for 2014 with goods you can count on to last for years to come.
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year, from Billykirk.

Happy customers: Satisfied by Billykirk bags this holiday season

We’re lucky to have some of our loyal customers share Billykirk leather and canvas bags as gifts, and even luckier to hear from the recipients who are wearing their new items with pride. Here are just a couple of holiday Tweets we’ve received– plus a collection of three testimonials delivered to us earlier this year in the span of two days.

Chris, got the bag yesterday:) I love it!! Thanks again for everything.
Have a great day,
Kathryn

(Kathryn received our No. 164 Olive Waxed Small Carryall, below)

Dear Chris,
Thank you so very much.  The carryall arrived yesterday; it is absolutely perfect.  My six-month search for the bag to meet my needs has ended.  Hooray. Your personal attention is unmatched.  I will be a devoted member of the Billykirk family!
Susan

(Susan bought our No. 164 Sienna Waxed Small Carryall, no longer in stock but pictured below)

Chris, I just received the olive bag, it’s beautiful and perfect, and thank you for such a speedy process.
Beatrix

(Beatrix is the proud owner of our No. 165 Olive Waxed Medium Carryall, below)
We're thankful for all of our customers and advocates!

Happy Holiday Wishes

Today, we’re sending warm wishes to all of our customers, collab partners and friends. Here’s a glimpse of the view from Billykirk’s home office in Bucks County, PA, where we craft our American-made items – from our family to be passed on in yours.

Here are a couple views from our home office.

Happy holidays!

Leather boxes for simple wrapping with style

The logic behind wrapping gifts feels flawed: Spending time putting something together that’s intended to be ripped apart. So we’re putting together something that you’ll want to save. Hand-stitched, American-made leather boxes.
These are in the works, and may be available in more colors soon. You won’t find them on our site, but can request orders by contacting us.
If you’re last-minute shopping for this holiday season, be sure to check out our stocking stuffer ideas, as well as our seasonal bags and menswear ideas.

Billykirk Worn in: Photos of a well-aged leather wallet

We design our leather bags, card cases and other items for men and women to wear them well and watch them improve with age. It's always  nice when Billykirk buyers  send us pictures of their worn-in merchandise, and we couldn't have asked for nicer shots than the ones of the No.155 leather wallet we received from customer and photographer Scott Rounds. We met up with Scott at last weekend's Pop Up Flea menswear event. He shared how his wallet gets better over time.
 
My mom bought me this wallet for Christmas in 2008. It started life with me in the natural finish, and within just a couple months had already taken on a nice brown hue, along with some polish from going in and out of my pocket. Early in 2009, I took a job as a bicycle mechanic, which I would end up doing for that entire year. After that, I managed to get on my feet as a photographer, which is what I'm still doing now. I also ride, race and wrench on motorcycles, all of which has made my wallet look the way it does after 5 years of use.
 
The wallet has been in my back pocket every single day since then, traveling through more than a dozen states and probably at least 4 countries. It's been with me to the hospital, it's seen a couple run-ins with the cops. It has been to the motorcycle races, and sunny days on a blanket in the park. There isn't any other single thing that I've handled and used every day for five years.
 
Scott Rounds
This  particular item was a collaboration with the now defunct bicycle manufacture, Freeman Transport.  (You can see "Freeman" faintly embossed across the closing strap.) But we've still got plenty of the No. 155 card cases with flaps in stock, as well as bi-fold card cases, snap trucker wallets , zip wallets and more.

Concrete paperweights: Sturdy, Solid Style

Paperweights have been around as long as desks, but the earliest recognized “classic” paperweights came up in the 1840s, and they were generally made of glass. We think today’s standards invite more sturdy construction, so ours are not your traditional floral weights.
We got together with Concrete Cat to cast some of our classic Billykirk wallets, card cases and other compatibles into durable paperweights.
Why concrete?
Just like our leather is sourced to last and age, we find that concrete has industrial strength but can be sculpted for artistry: We promise the casting system we use doesn’t turn out a cinder block. Our paperweights look and feel like real stone, and each one is unique. Concrete Cat is a partner who makes concrete that is reliable, yet somewhat unpredictable: Each weight has its own shade that comes from a unique toning process.
What’s more is just like we can tell you where every inch of our leather comes from, the materials used by Concrete Cat are sourced within the U.S. and Canada. Environmentally sustainable from places with fair compensation standards.
Industrial strength with style
Check out some of our newest homeware items.
Like a good leather bag, these weights will show some natural wear with age that makes them more customized.

What’s in store for NYC Pop Up Flea (Dec 6-8): Q&A with Michael Williams

What if this year’s holiday shopping - and much of your personal shopping for the year - could be done in a weekend? That’s the thought behind menswear market Pop Up Flea. With its seventh installment set for this weekend in NYC’s Mercer Building, PUFs’ featured styles and merchandise are curated to fill every closet need, from shoes, belts and sweaters to carryalls and coats. The event unites stylish gents (and the people who shop for them) with an eclectic mix of designers over honest, well-crafted menswear. And the Flea is bigger this year than ever before. I had a chance to chat with Michael Williams, Pop Up Flea co-founder and creator of A Continuous Lean. Read on for what to expect at this year’s NYC Pop Up Flea this year, and Williams’ thoughts on why quality goods always go well together.
For the uninitiated, give us a Pop Up Flea primer: What made you and Randy Goldberg start this venture?
Randy and I were thinking about opening a store, but instead of opening a permanent store, we thought, “Let’s open it one weekend at a time.” Plus, people wanted to meet the designers behind the brands, not just merchants. It’s a shopping event and also a meeting place.
Each Pop Up Flea is a vehicle to get the word out about good designs, and the brands that were there in the beginning took a leap of faith to do this with us.
When the event started, it was sometimes associated with American-made heritage: Do you think that’s still part of Pop Up Flea’s culture?
It’s always been about the timelessness behind the brand. It’s not meant to be precious or to focus so much on where things are made – it’s about showing things that last.  We’re interested in showing that everything quality works well together. What would everyone want to wear, and what won’t ever go out of style?
We sort of think of it as, everyone good is there, and everything there is good. Good designs and good people. A lot of brands that come are friends of ours, and there’s a good natural selection of a lot of well-made things. We approach the vendor list asking, “What brands would we carry at a store?” It’s no such much a curation as how we would design our own closets.
If you only wanted to do one weekend of shopping per year, this would be a place where you could do it.
But you’re running the Flea a bit more frequently now: You just had your first London show, and this year’s NYC has the most vendors to date. How do you account for that growth?
There’s a lot of good stuff out there: It’s fun when you can get good brands and interesting people in one space. There’s something for everyone, whether you just come by or you’re there to shop. The London show was great.
For New York, we started with 12 vendors, and this year we have over 50 vendors. We’re really excited about the group we have. And 82 Mercer is classic open space, a huge loft: We’ve had an eye on it for quite some time and we’re finally at the point where it’s a big enough event to support it.
What can people look forward to at this year’s larger event?
We have some new vendors. Steven Alan is joining us for the first time, and New Balance and Shinola will be there. Shinola was with us in London – there is definitely some overlap. And we’ve also got some of the designers who have been with us since the beginning, like Billykirk.
I know this is Billykirk’s sixth Pop Up Flea.
Honestly, Chris and Kirk [Bray, of Billykirk] are the perfect embodiment of what we want Pop Up Flea to be – the way they’re involved in the company, their personalities. Having people come to the event to see their stuff and be able to meet them is perfect. The way they operate was part of what planted the seed for the event. We like what they make, we like what they stand for.
[See a preview of what Billykirk is showing at this year’s Pop Up Flea here.]
What are your plans for Pop Up Flea in the future?
We want to continue to expand and bring it to new places. We’re looking to add more cities next year, domestic and abroad.
Pop Up Flea NYC is perfectly timed for holiday shopping: Any must-haves for someone shopping for a stylish guy at the Flea?
I try not to shop at all! All I do is talk about clothes. But one of the ways I manifest all of that is by organizing this event. Everything there is going to represent the strongest collection of brands you’ll find in New York City.
If you’re in the NYC area, check out Pop Up Flea Dec 6-8 at 82 Mercer. Full event details here, and be sure to say hello to Billykirk.