11/07/13 9:17am

The craftsmanship of Kika NY's hand-cut leather bags, like its signature Postal BackPack No. 1, sells itself, but having a shirtless model show them off never hurts. Photo: Kika NY

The craftsmanship of Kika NY’s hand-cut leather bags, like its signature Postal BackPack No. 1, sells itself, but having a shirtless model show them off never hurts. Photo: Kika NY

The best part about a handmade bag, besides being an attractive carryall, is the story behind its making. These three designers of coveted leather bags—a Dutch couple who works as a team, a woman who lets no piece of hide go to waste, and a man who learned to stitch from his costume designer girlfriend—all bring their own sensibilities to the trade, in fascinating and gorgeous ways. (more…)

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10/23/13 4:00pm
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The craftsmanship of Kika’s hand-cut leather bags, like its signature Postal BackPack No. 1, sells itself, though having a shirtless model show them off never hurts. Photo: Kika NY

When Kika Vliegenthart and her partner Sabine Spanjer started their own leather goods company a few years ago, they were hand-cutting and stitching bags together in their Clinton Hill kitchen. Today, the couple, who designs under the label Kika NY, are about to outgrow their third studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as their collection of handmade leather and canvas bags, small leather goods, shoes and accessories has finally hit its growth spurt.

“We started out at the beginning of the hall in a very, very, tiny, tiny space, but we keep on growing. Work keeps getting bigger and bigger,” says Spanjer.

Partners in life and in work, both women moved to New York from the Netherlands–Spanjer arrived in the city just five years ago, but Vliegenthart has been here for over 20 years. A former documentary filmmaker, Vliegenthart got her start making leather goods by apprenticing for Barbara Shaum, whose East Village leather goods shop is the stuff of legend. How does a Dutch documentary filmmaker convince a master craftsman like Shaum, an industry icon with over 50 years experience, to show them the tricks of her trade? (more…)