Anson Calder’s Handmade Leather Bags and Accessories

How tinkering with paper turned into a luxury brand with purpose

Minimalist leather goods (bags especially) are a dime a dozen, but Anson Calder‘s hand-crafted bags and accessories emphasize modularity and functionality, making them worth a second look. Much like sushi, which masks its need for good ingredients, technical skill and balance in what appears to be a simple dish of rice and fish, we’re impressed by the brand’s focus on practical solutions to everyday needs married with a mastery of technique that masks the complexities of creating its simple-looking products.

Made in Los Angeles with leather imported from a family-owned French tannery that supplies leather to the world’s most high profile luxury brands, the Salt Lake City-based company’s line of wallets, bags and accessories highlight function as proudly as they do design.

“I made our first prototype out of printer paper and packing tape when I was bored on a call back when I was working on Wall Street,” Calder admits. It featured an inventive center cut-out to make cards more accessible. That prototype lasted nine months of daily use and finally inspired him to try creating it in leather. He continues, “[My wife and I] saw this as a potential hobby and something we could do together…Next thing we knew, our hobby became a side-project that snowballed into enough of an opportunity that I didn’t go back to Wall Street,” and the brand was born.

Since that humble beginning the brand has sought to reduce the disconnect between functional goods, luxury, and handmade manufacturing. “On one hand, there are a lot of high-quality luxury products out there. They look good; they feel great. But, they’re not functional at all. On the other hand, you’ve got functional products that make our days easier, but they’re bulky and devoid of style,” Curtis Calder says. “Fashion and function don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It’s paying attention to every single detail, every single stitch, and how everything comes together to make every day a little easier and more stylish. Why can’t luxury items work better? And, why can’t functional items look better?”

It’s not that Anson Calder necessarily reinvented the wheel, as they say, but they took into account gaps in function and implemented them into their own take on luxury products. Wallets have been bulky and folded forever, and card wallets rarely do much but store more things than we actually need. Their card wallet is the solution to the aforementioned issues—a slim wallet with thoughtful design that’s beautifully executed.

Their bags, with upscaled MOLLE-styled leather straps on the interior and exterior support a range of attachments for most daily carry needs—laptops, tablets, cables, umbrellas, keys, headphones and more—keep things organized, dry and easily accessible. Backpack zippers open nearly 360 degrees to give unrestricted access to items tucked away at the bottom.

This tinkering with leather as a way to escape Wall Street was actually more than a hobby; Calder explains it was initially to offset the advancements of Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy—a genetic disorder that impacts the muscles. With the company, thanks to awareness and donations, he’s connected with a community of FSHD-diagnosed people. A portion of the proceeds from every Anson Calder purchase go to the FSH Society—the “FSHD Orange” colorway doubles down on the effort by using the Society’s adopted color. The natural attention their products garner—for their quality and sensible design—translates into momentum for positive action.

Anson Calder accessories like their iPhone case start at $80 dollars and their bags top out around $1400 for the Weekender.

Images courtesy of Anson Calder