Oakenlander was founded in 2016 in Nashville, TN. Starting out slow, we spent a good amount of time exploring various leathers, product options, and crafting techniques. After a few years of testing, we’ve settled on the items available in our current range, with a few other options available in our custom shop or in limited release.
Our goal was to find consistently clean leathers, rich in feel, that will age to a beautiful patina. The English bridle (Wickett & Craig, US), Buttero (Conceria Walpier, IT), and Minerva vachetta (Badalassi Carlo, IT) meet these requirements and are the standard leathers used throughout our range. Both the English bridle and Minerva vachetta leathers are softer in hand, while the Buttero is a little more firm.
~ Shell cordovan (Shinki Hikaku)
Wickett & Craig bridle leather in tan (authorized image)
Research and concept work is a constant activity at Oakenlander. Whether looking for new design inspiration, spending hours on the computer drawing up new ideas, or picking our current designs apart to see if any improvements should be made. Once an initial template has been drafted, it’s printed and tested on scrap. Adjustments are made and testing continues until we are happy with the result.
Once a design has been finalized, we carefully measure out the various components on the chosen hide. Each piece is cut by hand and the remainder is sorted for future products or scrap. After the leather has been cut, it is organized into small stacks and is then ready for preliminary finish work and construction. Internal pocket edges are given accent lines and edge paint is applied to match. Designated areas are then stamped with our logo.
The next phase is assembly with special seam tape or glue, when necessary. Once this is finished, edges and lines are inspected and the appropriate edges are marked for stitching. Each and every item is hand-stitched using the traditional method of saddle stitching. This technique allows for a clean thread pitch on both sides of the leather and produces a small knot within each hole to lock the thread in place. If a particular stitch is severed during use, the remaining stitches won’t unravel like a normal machine stitch.
After all areas have been stitched, the edges are sanded to ensure an even finish. The edges are burnished to smooth out the exposed leather grain from sanding and provide a good surface for edge paint. Once applied, the paint is left to set and then reapplied in two more layers. After the edging is done, the item is buffed and inspected.
Consistent quality is an important part of our entire process, from choosing the leather to final inspection. As leather is a natural product, there may be marks on the hide from the life of the animal. These are normal and part of the character and beauty of full-grain leather. However, we only choose the cleanest areas of a hide for production.
We check on each item throughout the crafting process to ensure it meets our standards, with a final check before leaving the workshop. Items that don’t pass are kept as shop demos, recycled, or scraped. Basically, if we wouldn’t be happy with buying it ourselves, it doesn’t get sold.