Frank Clegg is a Fall River, Massachusetts–based artisan who makes classic leather bags and accessories. During the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, he designed and made handbags, briefcases, luggage, and accessories that were sold at around 200 different leather shops (including Cole Haan). But the rise of offshore manufacturing, luxury brands, and mass retail saw things change, and products made in the USA lost their appeal as people hunted either for status or low prices. Clegg, however, has stuck to his guns and has focused on quality and bags that are built to last nearly a lifetime.
I have always felt that technology and the internet have helped increase the size and scope of artisans like him. Meanwhile the ever-changing array of tech devices also has created a stronger demand for leather goods, since we need pouches and pockets to hold those gadgets.
As someone who spends most of my time in the digital world, it is not surprising that I am drawn to analog things — from vinyl records to mechanical watches to leather goods. I have admired Frank Clegg's work from afar, and when a chance recently arose to chat with him, I embraced the opportunity.