Why We ♥ Smiths and Kings
In honor of Fathers day being this month, June 19th to be exact, we wanted to switch things up a bit and highlight a few of our favorite local men’s brands. We know all of you stylish babes shop for your men, so it’s just as important to know a few local, go-to brands, especially when holidays and birthdays come around. We found Smiths and Kings on instagram, fell for the hand crafted leather goods, and now here we are sharing with you!
Smiths and Kings is a Los Angeles-based company that offers a collection of leather goods that are made by hand, made to last, and made for kings. Owner Jose Estela’s commitment to ensuring high quality products is infused in every step of the process, from hand stitching all of his products, paying attention to details such as finishing and edging each product, to sourcing the leather from a renowned tannery in Chicago.
Where does your artistic influence come from and when did you start designing/making leather goods?
A lot of my influence comes from the Japanese and Scandinavian philosophy on design. The idea that you can do more with less. I aim to create products that emphasize a high quality, clean aesthetic. I have a background in graphic design, both in print and digital media. For me, Graphic Design was about getting a message, a feeling, or a point across in my designs that was instinctual, where you would see the design and it would evoke an emotion at the most basic level, being able to express that in the most minimal way possible. So, I wanted to transition that approach from a digital medium into a physical medium, and I started playing with leather about three years ago. What really drew me to leather was the notion that the way your leather product looks when you first get it will not be the same in 1, 5, or 10 years. It will begin to show the story of the user’s life and the patina that is created will evoke a feeling that you can connect to. I love this because people are not the same person they were 5 years ago. They evolve, they grow, and I believe that having a high quality leather good can be something that will capture that growth with the way it ages.
When I first started, I made things for friends and family, and everyone was so encouraging. They loved it, they thought it was the best thing in the world. Now that I look back at my first products, it’s obvious they were lying, haha :-). It took a lot of work on my end to really get good at my craft, I read books, looked on leather forums, watched videos, and kept creating. Slowly, I improved in my craft. While I was learning and getting better, it was still a hobby because I had a full time job. Then I got laid off, and that really scared me. I was 27, young enough to do anything but old enough where I was starting to think about my future and had an epiphany: My livelihood and financial security was dependent on another person. This scared me. I decided I wanted to be in control of my fate, my happiness, and my livelihood. I wanted to design my own products and not create based on someone else’s vision. Instead, I wanted to rely on my talent and hard work to succeed. So Smiths and Kings was born.
At the core of all my designs is the belief that products should be beautiful and functional. For my Summer Collection, I was inspired by nostalgia for summer days spent at the beach, watching the sky transition from bright blue, to sunset, and finally to dusk. I added two new colors to my lineup that reminded me of spending summer days outside. We worked with our leather supplier, Horween Leather Co. in Chicago, and we were able to find two colors that captured the essence of the sunset. Our Oxblood color has a rich red tone that will age well over time and our Parisian Blue has a classic blue tone with a hint of green that is subtle enough to compliment your style.
I chose “Smiths” because I wanted to pay homage to people that create with their hands, such as woodsmiths, metalsmiths, silversmiths, etc. Every step of my process is done by hand, so I wanted the name of the company to honor this disappearing art form. The second part of the company name is “Kings”, which I chose because I started my brand with the conviction that all my products would be high quality and made as if it were made for royalty.
My personal style is classic and casual. Some would say it’s boring, but I love wearing a beautifully worn pair of selvedge denim, boots and a black t-shirt. A là Brando, McQueen or Dean.
I test out every piece for a couple months before selling it, but the Curry wallet has outlasted my usual testing point, it’s now my everyday wallet! The pull up feature allows me to access my cards when I pull on the tab, so it’s super convenient. I have big fingers, so sometimes little pockets can be my worst nightmare. A little nerdy basketball fan confession about the wallet: I named it the Curry wallet after Stephen Curry from the Warriors. I’m a huge basketball fan and he has one of the quickest pull up jump shots of all time. I designed the wallet for the convenience of the pull up feature, but his pull up jump shot was the inspiration for the name.
I’ve been working on including more home goods in my collection and I plan on incorporating a new medium into my designs, like wood. I love the idea of wood and leather together, both have a warm, earthy feel so I think it would be a great addition.
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