This is D3 The Concrete, bringing you fashion from the street.
While on my travels, I had the opportunity to connect with a brand called Audentes Leather, a leather goods brand based on the West Coast of the U.S. The thing that caught my eye about this particular brand, which makes it stand out, is what they had, on display, coming in the near future. We, at Day & A Dream, are giving you a sneak peep, at their new product.
Before we get into that, I want to share with you a conversation that I had the other day with the brand founders, about how Audentes Leather came to be, their thoughts on the indigenous design, and some advice for up-and-coming leather workers.
(All photos are shot by Michael Morrow (@micadew). The model is Breeona Cox (@breeonacox).)
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Tell us who you are and where you are from.
We are two best friends, that met 20 years ago when we were students in San Francisco. Jose came from Chile to pursue a degree in business. And me, Alexandra, came from Colombia, to get a master in Human Resources. The moment we met, became instant friends, and have been best friends since that day, back in 1998. After graduating, We both decided to start a different business together, a journey that has taken us in unexpected adventures. We now live in Sacramento, CA, and founded our last company, Audentes Leather, just 2 years ago.
Tell the audience about Audentes Leather. From where does the name of the brand originate?
We started Audentes by those twists of destiny. Jose was on a road trip in Texas, when he bought a wallet for [himself], with cow hair [on it]. When he brought it back to California, the wallet received a lot of attention. Fast-forward 5 years, and he was ready to replace it but [he] wanted one exactly like the one he had previously bought. After looking everywhere, locally, online, you name it and couldn’t find one, he decided to make a few, and see if they would sell. They SOLD OUT!
So once again, we partnered up, made more, expanded to more styles, and initially, we started to sell to local boutiques. As we continued to expand to other cities, some of our clients started to ask if we could make products for women because they really liked the quality and that “uniqueness” of the textures. So we did! And 9 months ago, we created our first line of clutches and handbags for women. Some of the products are made here in the USA and some are made in South America. More on that later…
So how did we name our company, Audentes? Well, Our name comes from the process we had when creating those first wallets. It comes from conceiving an idea, taking a risk, acting on it, and working hard for it. “Audentes” specifically means “daring”, “venturing” or “risking.” Audentes is part of a phrase in Latin: “Fortuna Audaces juvat” which means “Fortune favors the Bold” [and] we sure hope so!
I observed a particular set of pieces at AGENDA in Long Beach that had a special significance. Please explain to the audience the significance of those items and how did you all get that group to create them.
Yes, some of the products in our new line, are made in Colombia. We wanted to add to the selection that we previously had, something with more color, different fabrics, and something that will take us back to our roots in South America.
As we started to research colors, materials, and techniques, we came across unique pieces, that were made by the Kuna tribes (or Guna tribes) in Panama and Colombia. We absolutely fell in love with the history, the colors and the techniques they use to handmake these fabrics. Some of them taking more than a hundred hours to produce.
We were lucky enough to have a contact that had previously work with them, and was able to facilitate this process, and being able to get the mola, directly from the Guna tribes in Colombia. We sure are so happy and proud to be able to add in our products a little piece of this beautiful community and the art they are able to create.
If any one is interested in learning more about the mola, what it is, and the technique they use, we have add some information about it.

(**Writer’s Note**: Here is the information about the mola technique. From the book, The Art of Being Kuna, by Mari Lyn Salvador, published by UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Los Angeles, CA in 1997.) 

        The mola is a handmade material that forms part of the traditional outfit of the women, in the Guna tribes. (sometimes refer also as Kuna). In Dulegaya, the Guna’s native language, “mola” means “shirt” and are worn by the women on the front and back side of their blouse“.
        Molas originated with the tradition of Guna women painting their bodies with geometric designs, using available natural colors; Only after the colonization by Spanish settlers in Panama and Colombia, Guna people started to transfer these same designs into fabric, first by painting directly on the fabric and later by using the technique of reverse appliqué.
        This reverse appliqué technique is when Several layers (usually two to seven) of different-coloured cloth (usually cotton) are sewn together; the design is then formed by cutting away parts of each layer. The edges of the layers are then turned under and sewn down. Often, the stitches are nearly invisible. This is achieved by using a thread the same color as the layer being sewn, sewing blind stitches, and sewing tiny stitches. The finest molas have extremely fine stitching, made using tiny needles.
        Some Molas are of such fine quality, that their completion takes several hundreds of hours – these pieces have the highest collector’s value and are sought-after on a world-wide level.
         Molas are now shown in museums and private collections around the world. The worldwide interest is based not only in the ethnologic meaning of the motifs but also in the unique textile technique. Molas may be purchased in Panama or western Colombia.
What other products do you have coming in the near future?
We definitely want to expand the products we have with mola. It is so unique and so representative of where we come from, that we want to keep adding their art to other clutches and other products. We are also interested in continue to incorporate pieces with materials like Icelandic sheep and Mongolian lamb.
What practical advice do you have for a young person who is aspiring to go into the leather making business?
I think the advice we can give is not only for the people interested in the leather business but just a person creating their own business:
  1. Make sure QUALITY becames your last name. Research, compare materials, talk to people, learn how to make your product or service better. And make sure that, in whatever you do, quality becomes your priority.
  2. Be passionate about what you do. If you find the passion, you WILL find a way to keep pushing forward. I like a quote from Oprah Winfrey: “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”
  3. Ask for feedback! Don’t be afraid to ask your clients what is working and what is not. That simple information can help you make the necessary adjustments or pivot completely in a different direction before something becomes an expensive mistake.
  4. Learn, learn & learn! We live in a time where things are constantly changing. Make sure you set time aside to keep up. Learn about new products, materials, processes, what is been developed in your specific market. Now is easier than ever to keep learning. And actually for free. Subscribe to a podcast, find a class, talk to people, listen to a book while you drive. You never know if just a little piece of information can become your next big idea.
  5. Don’t be afraid to take a risk! Take a chance, make the jump! You will never know how far you can go, if you never take the first step! We all have fears. What is important, is to master the reactions to those fears.
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If you want to keep up with Audentes, and their journey, you can check out their social media, and our website: www.audentesleather.com

About The Author

What do you get when you cross intelligence, with an original sense of fashion and a lyricism that knows no bounds? born and raised in 5th Ward, Houston, TX, D3 is equal parts MC, sartorialist, and scholar. D3 is the #BestDressedRapperInTexas and you should take your streetwear advice from him.