As You Like It

Craft Your Own Leather Luxury

ANYONE WITH DEEP ENOUGH POCKETS can acquire the handbag-of-moment or the stilettos du jour-but what really sets someone’s style above the rest is creating a one-of-a-kind piece under the tutelage of luxury fashion house craftsmen. For this, the sky’s the limit: color, materials, details, even personalization are forged together to create an unforgettable piece.

Most fashion houses have some sort of customization for their VIP customers. As demand for the latest and best pieces from a house grows, the need to provide even more personalized service for die-hard fashionistas has manifested itself in unique opportunities for customers to work with designers and craftsmen to create truly envy-worthy pieces.

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Leading the field in customizing handbags is Louis Vuitton. The Parisian brand has been making build-to-order handbags since the company’s inception in 1854. Their “mon monogram” or “my monogram” allows you to choose 17 different colors of stripes to accent one of three different bags (Keepall, Pegase and Speedy). In addition, you have the option of getting your initials emblazoned on the bag.

“Hot stamping” your name on leather is another way Louis Vuitton customizes its wares. Luggage tags, purses, wallets, or any soft leather goods can be hot stamped, adding an instant sense of exclusivity. The process takes between three and seven days to complete.

In very special circumstances, Louis Vuitton’s most valued clients are offered a rare opportunity to visit the family home in Asnieres, Paris. The home, now used as a museum and trunk workshop, is the historical heart of the now-legendary brand.

Fendi makes made-to-order a reality via its popular Selleria and Peekaboo Bags, which are available for customization.

Working with Fendi craftsmen, the customer chooses from Selleria leathers such as Cuoio Romano; exotic skins (crocodile and ostrich) and even precious furs (mink, fox and orylag). There are also 37 colors and an assortment of refined details such as suede, nappa lining, lino lario and gold accessories.

When finished, the custom creation comes delivered in exclusive packaging: a Selleria box in a lino lario bag, complete with a Selleria pamphlet and conditioning cream, along with personalized (and signed) letter from Silvia Venurini Fendi.

Fashionable gents get to turn back the hands of time to a bygone era when fine shoes were cobbled for each individual. Hawai’i’s well-dressed men (as well as many from Japan and beyond) head to Leather Soul for fine footwear. And while the Royal Hawaiian Center location has specific bespoke events throughout the year, it’s the Beverly Hills outpost that allows for year-round custom services.

“I believe that our Beverly Hills location is the only place in America where you can get fitted for bespoke shoes at any time,” says Leather Soul’s founder and owner, Thomas Park, noting that other places offer some bespoke services, but only at certain times of the year.

Leather Soul’s two locations are the only place in the U.S. where customers can find George Cleverly, a London-based brand that’s world-famous among the well-heeled. Park explains how customers are measured for a “last” (a wooden mold of in the shape of your foot) from which all your shoes will be created.

“George Cleverley offers many exotic skins such as carpincho, alligator and they have the exclusive rights to use Russian leather,” Park points out, alluding to precious Russian reindeer leather that was discovered in the hold of a ship found resting at the bottom of the sea for 200 years.

In all, it’s a 12-month process of measuring, fitting and adjustments to ensure perfection. But Park says that many of his discriminating customers-who happily endure the processwill have several pairs made at a time. This way, they are always eagerly anticipating their next custom shoe. It’s like Christmas all year round.

While toting the same logo along with you isn’t the worst fashion faux pas, customers in search of truly unique garments and accessories will scour gilded avenues in search of one-of-a-kind items. Thankfully, the design houses that offer such services are often the same that recognize quality of craftsmanship and attention to detail are the hallmarks of true luxury.

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