We are a small workshop that produces select leather goods made-to-order or in small quantities. Each item is carefully designed, crafted, and inspected before it gets to you.
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 a consistently clean leather, rich in feel, that will age to a beautiful patina. The bridle leather produced by Wickett & Craig (USA) meets these requirements and is the standard leather used throughout our range. This particular leather takes around six weeks to produce through a rather intensive process. It is drum dyed and hot stuffed with oils/fats for consistent color and a smooth, waxy/buttery feel. We also selected a few other leathers from tanneries in England, Italy, and Japan to use in our custom shop, as availability allows.
~ English bridle (Wickett & Craig)
~ Traditional harness (Wickett & Craig)
~ Buttero (Conceria Walpier)
~ Shell cordovan (Shinki Hikaku)
English bridle leather in tan (Wickett & Craig) – Posted by permission (Buckleguy)
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 dressed by hand in black or brown. 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 slightly glossy surface for dressing. Once applied, the dressing is carefully heated to set and then cool. 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.