Kicking off our Behind the Brand series, we caught up with Simon Glenday, the founder of one of the first brands to join Ryan James; Leather and Thread.
Leaving behind a successful career in advertising and design, Simon now creates completely handmade, unique leather accessories at his workshop in Altrincham, England.
RJ: Who is behind Leather and Thread?
SG: That would be me, Simon Glenday. It feels like an odd job title, but I am a leatherworker, entirely self-taught, with over 20 years’ experience. I launched Leather & Thread in early 2013 – it’s since grown to become a small team of skilled artisans, who design for function and are keeping a traditional craft process alive.
RJ: What inspired you to establish the brand?
I had a collection of old leather wallets that I kept in a shoe box under my bed growing up. These were things of all shapes and sizes; hand-me-downs from friends and family, bits I’d picked up from car boot sales, charity shops and village fetes. I was fascinated by how each one was unique and how the leather moulded with use and developed markings that told the story of the item.
I began working with leather in my early teens and became drawn into learning about time-honoured leather craft techniques and traditional hand tools. I soon developed my own unique style and, with a lot of trial and error, began creating my own small collection of wallets and cardholders. Leather & Thread was born.
RJ: What does your design and creation process look like?
SG: It’s very simple really: we look to design functional items that will stand the test of time and last a lifetime, but which also offer a unique take on what the rest of the wallet and accessories market is doing.
Most of our items start life as a sketch on a small scrap of paper. We then cut a prototype freehand and trim it down until the dimensions are perfect. If a product passes the initial concept phase we test it by using it for six months. At the end of the trial period we’ll review the design and decide whether to launch it or not – quite a few end up in the scrap heap!
I think design is often over thought or dumbed down too much, the key to our design process is to keep in functional and aesthetically pleasing.
RJ: What is your proudest moment so far?
SG: Each day is a proud moment for me. Rather than trudging off to an office somewhere, I’m waking up to spend the day in our workshop, doing what I truly love with some great people.
We receive a lot of personal messages of thanks from customers and these really make it all worthwhile. We all shed blood, sweat and tears for our craft at Leather & Thread, so knowing that our items have put a smile on a few faces makes me and my team extremely proud every day.
RJ: What are your aspirations for the brand?
SG: Since launching the brand I have always taken great care to stay true to our original beliefs and not to sell out in the name of profit.
We still carefully cut every item by hand; punch each individual hole one by one; hand sew every stitch, and colour every item individually using traditional oil dyes. My aspirations for the brand are really to stay true to these original beliefs and to become known for our fine craftsmanship. We know that our products will never appeal to everyone, and that’s fine. We just want to bring back a traditional craft with unique designs.
RJ: If there was one icon of men’s style that captures your brand, who would it be?
SG: Jesus Christ – a style icon before his time. His handmade functional approach to style fits the Leather & Thread ethos perfectly.
Leather and Thread’s collection of wallets and cardholders is available at Ryan James.