Style & Substance: Frank Clegg Leatherworks

Frank Clegg doesn’t just make leather bags; he crafts heirlooms, one at a time, by hand.

While Frank and his small team of craftsmen design and build elegant leather goods under the Frank Clegg Leatherworks name, the workshop also produces exquisite products for some of the most revered of American luxury labels.

Frank is an artist of the old school; he learned craft over time and understands that when true luxury is involved, less is definitely more.

As with many true craftsmen, he has decades of experience and a repository of thousands of designs, both executed and waiting to be brought to life. Frank is a design and inspiration omnivore – the result of genuine curiosity and New England pragmatism. The more you know, the more you have to offer.

His bags and accessories grace the days of doctors, lawyers, artists, businessmen and globetrotting executives. The relationships he builds over time lead to new designs and the demanding exactitude of his customers keep sharp an attention to quality and detail.

Take for example the simple pen sleeve. In so many bags, a place to put your pen is an afterthought; necessary but uninspired. In Frank’s bags the pen sleeve is part of the interior experience of the bag. It is honored.

The internal components of a Frank Clegg bag are kept to a minimum. Each pocket has a purpose and their scarcity forces the owner to selectively choose the items he carries. Such a bag inspires one to only put in it things of beauty, substance, and purpose. Hence the large, carefully formed pen sleeves. They almost beg for a vintage fountain pen, which Frank collects, or sleek, modern carbon composite roller ball.

Aware of his own depth of knowledge, Frank is also a generous mentor. Young, talented artisans and designers who see him as a font of practical knowledge and priceless experience regularly seek him out. They always leave richer in knowledge and ready to someday pass along the skills they too will develop over time.

Luxury leather work is a deceivingly complex craft. Even the modern conveniences of machines and computerized design must bow to the master of time, because it still takes time to create such durable beauty.

Frank may practice an age-old craft, but this creative innovator is very much on the pulse of today’s luxury goods market. An examination of his new Aiden Duffle Bag provides proof of this pioneering craftsman’s skill and ability to tweak tradition to meet the needs of a modern customer.

The Aiden is named for Frank’s father and updates his traditional carry-on bag with a modern, clean design. Its compact shape, reminiscent of a traditional doctor’s bag, belies some serious space, accessed through Swiss RiRi zipper that spans the bags’ entire length. The shape is distinctly streamlined and minimal, referencing a mid-century modern aesthetic, allowing the luxuriously soft tumbled leather and stunningly precise stitching to shine through.

The bag’s interior is a single open compartment devoid of any lining. Such finishing requires a master’s touch, as every aspect of the bag is open to detailed examination.

Interior seams are prefect and here the quality of the hand-selected leather is truly seen. The delicately arched handles and 1¼-inch shoulder strap bring sturdy functionality and visual balance to the bag.

The Aiden bag, and Frank Clegg himself, are examples of how modern innovation and hand crafted luxury can blend together to create something modern, classic, functional and timelessly stylish.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by LEXUS via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of LEXUS.

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  1. Joe France

    Wasn’t Frank Clegg in a partnership called Loftus and Clegg until fairly recently, or is that someone else?

  2. Hi Joe, yes Frank was in a partnership with Joe Lotuff; called Lotuff & Clegg. That partnership ended late last year and Frank and Joe have set up separate brands. Frank Clegg Leatherworks and Lotuff Leather.

  3. Jim

    Joe France – I noticed the same thing. How can the Lotuffs and Clegg both sell the same bags when Clegg designed them though? Doesn’t make
    much sense…. Clegg’s bags are priced different as well about 100-200 cheaper! OTC why is this?

  4. Jim – While I can’t speak for either brand’s pricing models, the Lotuff Leather price points tend to be a bit higher. The fact that they work in different states, with different artisans, and I suspect with different margins, could all affect the pricing.

    As to the the designs, yes, to my knowledge, all of the L&C products were designed by Frank Clegg. While it is a little odd to see both labels producing similar products, I’m not privy to anything related to who has the rights to what designs, etc.

    That said, I also get the impression that each brand is seeking to create distinctive and unique items. For both brands to continue to be successful, they will need to define their unique space in the market. Both produce beautiful products that are redefining what it means to be an American luxury goods brand.

  5. Jim

    Thank you,

    My mind is a bit more clear. So are you saying the Lotuff brand will discontinue making the Clegg bags and start creating their own unique designs?

  6. Hey Jim – I have no idea what either company’s plans are in terms of design or production. It’s simply something to which I am not privy.

    I do know that, generally speaking, both Joe and Frank are looking to further develop their own brands’ identities, in part through their products.

    Two examples of this approach can be seen is the Lotuff “Wells” briefcase and the Frank Clegg “Shrunken Leather Messenger” bag. Both are lovely bags and particularly distinctive to each brand.

  7. Jim

    Thanks again,

    I will contact both companies and see what is going on. The shrunken leather is wild!

  8. Sounds good! I actually have the shrunken leather messenger bag and it is amazing – probably one of the most unique but classic looking bags I’ve ever seen.

  9. Ray Leonard

    Looks like frank is the real deal as of what I know the lotuffs are not designers and that is probably why they still make te same bags because they cannot design anything new as for there wells briefcase that I can assure is not a bag that the lotuffs designed that bag has been made for years I actually have one of franks from back when and it is actually made better then there’s seems like they will have to hire a designer and let’s see of there designs in the future look a lot like franks I bet they will…. To bad people can not just do their own thing which I can see Clegg is doing I wonder if he could stop them from making his designs because if I were a designer u would be absolutely outraged by their lies I have even heard them say they have designed some of his bags what pigs I guess karma will catch up at some point…

  10. Ray – Thanks for your comments, it sounds like you are already pretty familiar with Frank’s work. He is definitely an amazing craftsman and probably one of the best leather workers you are going to find anywhere. It also sounds like you have a very sharp opinion of the Lotuff brand, which is certainly your right. However, I do ask that refrain from using offensive language or engaging in personal attacks on OTC. I am certainly in favor of spirited discussion, but will remove posts that I deem inappropriate.

    That’s an interesting point about the “Wells”; I’m guessing that it was called something else previously as I have not seen it on the Clegg site? I do agree that for Lotuff to firmly establish itself as a distinct brand, it will need to move beyond the Clegg designed bags.

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