Jonathan J

All General Made are Jamie and Anna, a Scottish journeyman couple specialising in beautiful handmade leather gear. Intelligently focusing on the accessories space, their wallets, belts and other complementary pieces exemplify a self-taught ethos of low volume, high quality gear that enhances and improves the ever-growing artisan & craft scene.

Typically of the Makers I speak to, they couple an enthusiasm for traditional construction methods and historical provenance, but also have a keen weather eye on the contemporary 21C online landscape of eCommerce; check out their Tumblr, and their Instagram feed for a carefully curated blend of classy gear pics and non-cheesy life slices.

Our conversation:

How did you learn your craft?

We learned our craft by reading books and watching instructional videos. This taught us the basics and from there it has been a case of experimenting, practising and learning on the go. We often find it useful to look at how other, existing products are constructed. We also find that there is a lot to learn by seeing how older items are made.

What inspires you when creating a new design?

That is a difficult question. There isn’t really one thing in particular that inspires us; more than anything we are motivated by trying to make products which are useful and well made. It can be a case of trying to improve on a pre-existing product but this is obviously a matter of opinion as what we consider to be an ‘improvement’ is only based on our aesthetic and other people may or may not see it as such.

We mentioned before about learning through looking at old designs and products, these items often give us ideas for new products for our range. Anna has an old German satchel which belonged to her Gran and we plan on making a version of this in the not too distant future. It’s a cool piece with lots of personal history, we are currently working on a reinterpretation, fully hand-stitched.

There are also times where we are inspired simply by the materials we have, for example we recently came across a small batch of vintage Japanese Selvedge denim in a nice 10oz weight which when we felt it, was perfect for making ties.

Which do you value most, form or function?

Ideally these go hand-in-hand and for us, a successful product should be something that is able to tick both boxes. If pushed for an answer, function is the obvious choice for us. Of course, the aesthetic values of a product are going to be important in its appeal, but if it doesn't function as it should then it is useless.

Are there any other skills which you would like to learn to complement what you already do?

The skill set we have has been built up through research and practice - the most important thing for us is to keep improving, both in terms of design and construction. We are currently skilling up on skived and rolled edges, this gives a totally different look and finish to products. Next on the list is tanning, another vast area of skill and knowledge to get to grips with – and also messy...

In terms of specific craft skills, we often talk about trying our hand at indigo dyeing and eventually we want our brand to include useful goods for the home, so there are plenty of traditional crafts we’d like to have a go at. My mum is a master with clay and teaches pottery, which is something we would love to learn.

Looking at the artisan scene as a whole, who do you like and why?

Roy - Amazing attention to detail and we like the fact that he is always doing something different; it would be easy for him to churn out the same thing over and over again but he is always tweaking the fit and details on his jeans.

Teranishi brand - Well thought out products and such a clear identity throughout the range. He is also committed to doing small, limited runs which is something we really like.

For Holding Up The Trousers - Limited quantities, truth to materials, simple design.

Tender Co - UK manufacturing and an ever growing range of products. It’s always interesting to see what comes next.

Sturdy Brothers make some really fantastic bags and canvas goods, we also love the idea of it being a family business.

Anyone who is making a living making something they have designed and made with their own hands is someone we look up to.

Outside of the artisan scene, which brands do you like and why?

MAKR - Attention to detail and immaculate design. They have a totally different approach to making their items and have embraced technology. They are constantly adding new products and they manage to make everything seem timeless. They are the gold standard.

The Hill-Side - Love their use of interesting fabrics and there is lots to admire in how they have evolved from a small company making ties. They always have some really nice stuff and they do some interesting collaborations. We like how they manage to make their products fun and useful at the same time.

Yuketen - Absolutely our favourite footwear brand. They are able to produce on a larger scale but are still able to use artisanal techniques. Their shoes/boots are like works of art!

In general, we like brands who champion local manufacturing and non-mass-produced goods. Brands like Red Wing, Saint James, Engineered Garments, and Tellason etc. are all examples of what we mean.

At NoKipple we see a lot of value in short run, custom made products by craftsmen, what do you think the appeal is in these kind of goods?

Part of the appeal is the way that this can take consumers closer to the makers and get a more rewarding experience; we all like that feeling of having something unique or limited. Working in this way gives customers a sense of ownership, that they are part of the history/process. There is no doubt that handmade products have an intrinsic value that a mass produced item simply doesn't have. A few personal picks we particularly love: our Yuketen chukkas, a MAKR wallet from their early days in 2008 and some tea beakers made by Jamie’s mum.

The other thing we like about it is the relationship from the point of view of the maker. We enjoy hearing from customers and talking about our products. We like knowing that there is a guy in Michigan wearing one of our belts, or that there’s someone wearing one of our ties to his wedding.

We're currently speccing up a wallet with All General Made, for the NoKipple Makers space - more info to follow soon.