I recently bought a hybrid leather and wood bag from a small leather bags factory in Marikina! It’s a unique and versatile piece — suited to an artsy and eccentric person who also loves the sophisticated look.
In a previous blog, I talked about Marikina shoes. This one is about Marikina bags this time!
The Bag-story (Backstory)
I had been eyeing a Coach bag on Instagram for some time, but at 8,000+ PHP, it felt like too much of a splurge. (I’m paying for a lot of things at the moment, hence the need for me to keep a strict budget.) That’s when I remembered my commitment to buy local whenever I can.
Since we now live in Marikina, which just so happens to be the shoe capital of the Philippines, I thought I’d grab the opportunity to look around for decent leather crafting shops. So I did a deep Facebook hunt for potential shops to visit.
Unfortunately, my Facebook search did not yield too many desirable results. I found mostly wholesalers of readymade vegan leather products. But I wasn’t looking for synthetic leather. I wanted a handmade bag that could last long, which meant genuine leather was the way to go.
Thankfully, I came across the Facebook page for D’Leather, a local bag manufacturer. They had a photo on their feed of a Longchamp-esque bag made of genuine leather. I liked it! So I sent them a quick Facebook message to check if their store was active. I got a response within the day, and I chatted back and forth with their page manager regarding item availability and store location.
D’Leather: The Store
I quickly hopped into the car and set my Waze app to the address they gave me during our conversation.
When I reached the pinned destination, I saw a leather bag factory with a different store name (Marikina Leather Crafts) on its signage. Since there was no other bag factory in sight, I figured this was the place.
The only issue I encountered was parking, since the street was small and the area was mostly residential. Of the very few establishments around, none had free parking spaces. I had no choice but to find. a free spot at the side of the road. This is an issue common among small establishments in Marikina. It’s an old-style city, and many of the streets here are still quite small and cramped.
The leather bag factory had a small-town, artisanal feel. There were a few sample items on display, many more bags and miscellaneous leather books (e.g. ID holders and laces, alcohol holders, notebook covers, desk mats, etc.) stashed away in cabinets and still plastic-wrapped, and a busy workshop in plain view. The owner of the store was around, and she was pleasant. I managed to chat her up about item prices and the potential of buying wholesale. As an entrepreneur at heart, I always delight in the idea of selling and/or reselling any product that comes to mind.
The bag I bought was the about the same size of standard ladies’ clutch — just big enough to fit a regular long wallet, a 6+ inch screen phone, and some other everyday carry (EDC) goodies like a pen, a small pack of tissues, and a tiny bottle of alcohol. There were a couple of bigger sizes available at the factory (one that can fit a laptop, and another one vertically oriented), but I fell in love with this particular one due to its handy size, faux-alligator texture, and lovely light brown leather. Originally, the bag only closed by way of its top flap alone, but I felt that this wouldn’t be secure enough for everyday use. Thankfully, the shop owner offered to add the gold lock after I purchased it.
Its interior is comprised of two main pockets with a zippered pocket in between. Attached to this zippered pocket is a metallic label with “Woods & Hide by Marikina Leather Crafts” embossed. I am not sure if this is a brand name. I tried looking it up but did not find anything related to it.
The store owner said that this particular bag style sold like peanuts at their most recent mall bazaar. Each bag sold for 7,000php. I got mine for 2,500php.
I’ve had my bag for about two weeks now, and I have used it a few times on mall weekends. It’s holding up fine so far, except for a few signs of wear on the wooden sides. Its leather strap is attached to the wood with gold metal hardware, which tends to scratch against the wood and leave marks. Since I have obsessive-compulsive tendencies, tiny imperfections tend to get amplified in my mind. But I’ve effectively convinced myself that the marks aren’t a big deal, being merely cosmetic. They don’t compromise the bag’s overall integrity or usability.
I’ve also managed to get the bag slightly wet at least once due to an accident involving water in our kitchen. The splashes left a few dots, but these quickly disappeared upon air-drying.
The Pros & Cons
Of course, there are pros and cons to owning just about any type of bag. Here are the pros and cons of a leather-and-wood bag:
- One-of-a-kind design
- Can be used as protection against bad guys in the streets (ha, kidding 1/2)
- Somewhat heavy for a sling bag
- The metal hardware holding up the strap scratches against the bag’s wooden sides, leaving dents and gouges (might not be a big deal as imperfections and/or signs of wear tend to enhance a leather piece’s charm)
I’d say the bags from D’Leather are a great buy! If you’re treating yourself on a budget, I highly recommend buying local goods. While there’s nothing wrong with occasionally splurging on an internationally-known brand-name item, our local businesses can definitely use some love and support. That’s two birds in one shot — you’ll make your heart and our economy happy!