Hide Industry by Alvin Teo

I heart Twitter.

I didn’t always. I used to find the signal-to-content ratio a little too high for my liking. Over the past year, I’ve discovered how to “use” Twitter and I’ve found it to be one of the best ways to connect with like-minded people here in Singapore.

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The other afternoon, I Tweeted: “Know of #leathercraft classes in #Singapore? DM/email me if you have any leads.”

Ask and you shall receive (in 140 characters, of course). Alvin Teo runs his own boutique design agency and, on weekends, crafts. He first found himself leathercrafting several years ago, when he looked at a leather bag and thought to himself, I could so do that. “It was a disaster,” he says. He admits he breezed through a few videos online, ordered some hide and tools, and got started. “The stitches weren’t straight and the proportions were off.”

So, Alvin went back online and paid a lot more attention to how things should be done. Leathercraft has been his avocation for nearly two years and he’s gotten “pretty good at it.” Judge for yourself.

His hides are sourced locally from a supplier, who has since exited the business. “I will likely have to make a trip to India when they run out,” he says. “Likewise, my tools are are largely sourced from overseas and, as a person who needs to be instantly gratified, the delivery times are especially galling.”

Aside from leather craft, Alvin collects cameras—Olympus OMs have a particular firm grip on his heart and wallet—and his quest to make the perfect bag may never really end until each camera rests in its own bag. “You can’t hurry the process along; a bag may require up to a thousand stitches to be done entirely by hand,” he says. “A bag will take as long as it needs to emerge from a pile of leather and thread and there are no shortcuts worth taking if you intend to get a product worth keeping.”

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Alvin does custom orders. Email him with your specifications.

So, Alvin and I are floating the idea of collaborating on a series of leathercraft and bookmaking classes in 2012. Interested? Leave a comment below and we’ll email you when we’ve figured something out.

(Additional credits: Photographs by Alvin Teo. Used with permission.)

11 responses

  1. @Sandra, nope I don’t :) I’ve been fortunate enough to get hold of some original eveready cases, so that itch is satiated. I make bags to hold a variety of my cameras, from 35mm to MF etc.

  2. Alvin, I am interested in learning how to make a bag in leather. I believe it’s the next step for me to take (I make handbags and accessories in fabric). If you can’t/ don’t want to teach yourself, maybe you know someone here in Singapore who will?

  3. They’re beautiful! I’ve always wondered if we’ve SGP draftees who could make similar bags to what Zkin has. Now I know! Twitter is good, sometimes. :)

  4. @Marie, I’d be glad to help. Drop me an email and we’ll see what we can work out?

    And to the rest who’ve expressed interest about being a part of a leathercraft class, give me some time to figure out how to do this. Getting enough tools will take a while. Will update you all here and via twitter (add me @hide_industry).

  5. The bags are gorgeous. (I am a huge fan of any kind of leather bag…) And Pooja, I am starting to use Twitter more now but still can’t say I really love it although I know I don’t use it to its full potential yet. The idea of a leathercraft class sounds great. I am starting to be a little jelous of you guys living in Singapore :-). Seems lots is going on down there!

  6. Great hookup (again!) Pooja! We’ve been looking for a leather craftsman. Hi Alvin, will be in touch!