10 Leather Ateliers to Shop in New Zealand

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your daily handbag or want something with a touch of class to complete a new outfit, leather goods have long been the go-to when it comes to sustainability, quality and longevity.

Yu Mei bags on shelves.

Words by: Zack Holmes

Hero image by: Yu Mei

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your daily handbag or want something with a touch of class to complete a new outfit, leather goods have long been the go-to when it comes to sustainability, quality and longevity.

Dozens of ateliers have appeared in Aotearoa over the years, proving why handcrafted leather has steadily remained a staple of the luxury fashion and accessories industry. From minimalist made-to-order designs to small-batch production with a focus on locally-sourced materials, here are ten of the best makers out there whose products you’ll undoubtedly want to get your hands on.

A woman lying on a bed with a Yu Mei bag.

Yu Mei

www.yumeibrand.com

Complexity resolved—that’s the ethos and driving force behind Yu Mei, a specialty leather goods company established by Jessie Wong in 2015. Using premium South Island Red Deer nappa, each design is brought to life by the tight-knit team at their Wellington studio, where they are carefully refined until fit for purpose with a particular emphasis on reducing materials waste. The range is the epitome of understated luxury, and as a testament to their dedication to sustainability the buyback initiative gives your pre-loved bag a new lease on life. Available to purchase online or in store, their signature Yu Mei Lounge in the capital and brand new store located at Commercial Bay in Auckland provide a holistic shopping experience centred around friendly, personal service.

Close up of a red Saben bag.

Saben

www.saben.co.nz

From wallets to baby bags and everything in between, Saben products are designed in Aotearoa and constructed using quality leather and other premium materials. Held to high manufacturing standards, every item is simultaneously timeless and trendy, ready to tackle the chaos of everyday life in one stylish place. Any bag can be transformed with their adjustable feature straps, and their travel range has you covered with everything from luggage tags to cabin bags making Saben truly a one stop shop for quality products you can rely on. Visit them at their flagship Ponsonby store or shop online.

Close up of a Georgia Jay bag.

Georgia Jay

www.georgiajay.com

A relatively new kid on the block, Georgia Jay focuses on playful form and colour with every piece made entirely by hand at their open studio in Auckland. Modern and considered design takes precedence here, and the beautiful light-filled showroom makes it easy to peruse the range at your leisure (though not so easy to choose!) Utilising dead-stock, Georgia sources and hand picks all of the materials locally as part of the hands-on approach she’s become renowned for. Available off the rack at selected stockists or made to order, every bag and wallet is ultimately a work of art you’ll carry for life.

Two people holding Wayward St. bags.

Wayward St.

www.waywardst.com

The team at Wayward St. have been keeping things simple and clean since founders Nick and John met while studying industrial design together at Massey University. Their minimalist range is entirely made to order, each piece being handcrafted in their Wellington workshop using hand selected durable New Zealand cowhide and intended to withstand daily use. Every bag purchase also comes complete with a care kit including conditioner that can help restore surface scratches and further maintain the life of the product.

Close up of a Desirable wallet.

Desirable

www.desirable.co.nz

It’s time to upgrade that velcro nightmare you’ve been carrying since high school, and these artisan-designed men’s wallets by Desirable might be just the thing you need to step up your EDC game. Handmade in Aotearoa from 100% genuine leather that will last a lifetime; bifold, trifold, passport covers and even simpler card holders are all part of the range, with a wide variety of finishes and textures to suit any taste. Defiantly staring fast fashion in the face and taking pride in their work, nothing leaves the workshop unless it’s up to scratch, so you know you’re getting a lifetime piece that won’t make the cashier cringe.

A pink Harry and Co bag.

HARRY & CO.

www.harryandco.co.nz

Lovingly handcrafted using fine leather selected from the best tanneries in New Zealand and Europe, the timeless design of HARRY & CO. bags effortlessly carries over from season to season. With a high level of care and attention to ensure the bags are as functional as they are beautiful, it’s a great way to ensure all of your essentials are stored safely and easily accessible thanks to the clever compartmentalised design. From minimal styles to more flashy options including a limited edition range of strapped clutches, they also carry some stunning tote bags and wallets in various sizes.

Close up of leather belts.

Kingfisher Leather NZ

www.kingfisherleather.co.nz

Northland-based Kingfisher Leather NZ are true masters of their discipline, combining locally-sourced leather and artisanal craft to make quality goods that will stand the test of time. Made in Whangarei by founder and creator Vivien King, she has been creating leather goods since 2016 and pays homage to an era when products were made by hand and to last. From hand-pressed rivets to zip and pocket placement, the details are what makes each product special. Rounding out the goods on offer are a range of belts, pot plant hangers, coasters and leather care treatments to keep everything looking fresh for years to come.

Close up of a  brown Amelia Boland handbag.

Amelia Boland

www.ameliaboland.co.nz

Carefully considered down to the last stitch, every design aspect of an Amelia Boland item has a purpose, with form being led by function. Using NZ-sourced materials selected for their durability and aesthetic, every piece is made to order ensuring the company’s sustainability-led focus remains at the core of what they do. While the delicious tote and duffel bags steal the show, the range of smaller pouches definitely hold their own and give new meaning to the saying, “why not both?”.

Close up of Soul Shoes.

Soul Shoes

www.soulshoes.co.nz

This list wouldn’t be complete without showing some love for the cordwainers out there. Getting around in comfort and style isn’t only down to handbags and coin pouches, and if you’re in the market for something a little less off-the-shelf than your typical shoe store can offer then it’s definitely worth checking out the work of Soul Shoes.

Made in Raglan since 1973, these handmade shoes and accessories are known for their unique and unusual hides worked by master craftsmen using traditional materials and construction methods. What this all adds up to is long lasting, quality footwear that will turn heads. Of course they also cover all the usual suspects like bags and belts, and their range even includes some really beautiful homeware options and a healthy dose of conditioning products to keep those clogs in tip top shape.

Close up of a Sonder wallet.

Sonder

www.sonder.co.nz

“We make nice things with leather”—that’s the word from Sonder Leather and says about all you really need to know when it comes to their work. Nice is perhaps a slight understatement, as their clean lines and impeccable stitchwork speaks to a level of craft rarely seen on this scale.

Centred around the value of buying less and buying better, they believe knowing where and how your goods are made is as important as the convenience and luxury they provide. Made by hand right here in Aotearoa from vegetable-tanned kangaroo leather, you can also customise any item with free embossing at checkout free of charge. What’s more, the products are guaranteed for 50 years against faults, giving you peace of mind that these guys take their work seriously—and stand by it.


Want to shop more local NZ makers? Check out the 10 New Zealand jewellers you need to know about, or browse for homewares in these online shops.