Often in fashion, we look for our tribe. We are drawn to those with a similar aesthetic, admire those with successful businesses and established clientele and seek out those who share the same philosophy on design and production. This week, I get to tell a bit of a fashion fairy tale as I share the story of two talented artists and makers, Roberto Calasanz and Judy Kaye.
If you have taken the University of Fashion’s illustration courses, you already know Roberto Calasanz. But what you may not know is that he is not only a talented illustrator, but also a dedicated artisan with a history rich in travel and experiential training. Roberto has partnered with fair-trade organizations and began creative collaborations with artisans around the world producing shearling coats with Macedonian furriers and leather smiths, woolen carpets with Kyrgyz master felters, and horn and bone jewelry with Haitian artisans. He finds inspiration in the nature that surrounds his studio in the Catskill Mountains near Woodstock where he has set up his leather shop. Here, Roberto produces his line of leather bags, belts, cuffs and jewelry, characterized by their irregular botanical lines, organic shapes and textures. He sources only the finest vegetable-dyed leather and solid brass hardware, then cuts, stitches, etches, stamps, gilds, burnishes and distresses his pieces entirely by hand.
Judy Kaye has the same appreciation and passion for hand made, personal pieces. With a background in fine art, silversmithing, leather craft and tapestry design, Judy launched her line of product in 2000 under the name JUDY KAYE • BOUNDED STYLE. Clean clear lines dominate the look of her jewelry and leather pieces, without defining the gender of the wearer. Something that truly sets Judy apart from other makers is her ability to connect with her clients. Creating individual pieces is a collaborative effort where Judy designs to create the perfect aesthetic and fit for her devoted fans.
Roberto and Judy met in 2009 while selling at a Soho weekend designer’s market in NYC and instantly formed a mutual respect for each other’s work. Judy remembers being instantly drawn to Roberto’s positive aura and his distinctive style of dressing. Their instant connection led to a friendship and in March of 2015, the pair decided to make it official. They combined their complimentary styles into one destination store, salon and studio, Leather Bound, located in the trendy DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn. Today, they sell their handmade, high quality goods to a shared clientele and continue to inspire each other. In New York? Be sure to visit these warm and wonderful artists and experience their craft first hand. Leather Bound is located at 65 Pearl Street in Brooklyn, NY.
Finally, if you are interested in working with leather, the U of F has an entire series of videos to get you started. From sorting and cutting leather to advanced sewing techniques, you can learn how to source, cut and sew leather on your own. When you are ready to sell your wares, we will look forward to putting you in touch with Roberto and Judy – perhaps Leather Bound will be the perfect fit for your product.
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