Lessons in leather
Leather designer Justin Capp is sharing his skills from his rural Northants workshop
By Sarah Becker
Tucked away at the far end of the village of Thurning in the northeast of Northamptonshire is leather designer Justin Capp’s studio - an idyllic spot, metres away from his beautiful house amidst lush vegetation.
It’s here that Justin holds his workshops - passing on his well-honed skills to those looking for a new hobby or perhaps wanting to make an individual piece for themselves.
“People find the workshops a real antidote to the everyday grind of working,” he says.
“They give people a chance to express their creativity in a tranquil setting far from the hustle and bustle of the every day.”
With 25 years of experience of working with leather under his belt, 52 year old Justin, who grew up in Thurning, has had his bespoke leather accessories published in style bible Vogue and his belts, bags and fantasy pieces have adorned models on the catwalks of Milan, London, Paris and Rome.
“I did three seasons at London Fashion Week when fashion designer Alexander McQueen was in vogue,” he says.
He now divides his time between designing and creating leather goods for commissions and for sale; facilitating workshops, and teaching at the Marangoni Institute, a fashion design school in London.
He currently runs an ‘Open Studio’ on Tuesdays between 2pm and 5pm and 7pm and 10pm where people can bring their own project ideas for leather items to the table. These sessions cost only £20.
“People make a wide variety of things; log baskets, boxes, firewood carriers, dog leads as well as the more traditional accessories such as bags and belts,” he says.
“They don’t need any previous experience and we always start off with an apprentice piece which is a credit card holder where people can learn skills such as hand stitching and cutting out by hand.”
He also runs group workshops where participants all make the same product.
During the one-day workshop participants learn how to make a double lined hard wearing cotton canvas bag and learn skills such as setting eyelets and popper studs and cutting and stitching leather using specialised leather tools and machinery.
“People come with a desire to make really high quality products and get a personalised good quality result,” he says.
When he is not helping people create their own products, Justin designs and creates his own bespoke pieces, many from commissions, and sells his designs on Etsy and in outlets abroad. He specialises in bags, belts, wallets and accessories.
“I try to find ways to keep the manufacturing costs low and economically viable,” he says, “as I generally sell products seven times greater than their manufacturing cost.”
“I don’t like anything that is too expensive or too perfect. I haven’t been formally trained. As a result I haven’t had to work to conventions, and I work that to my advantage.”
Although he now teaches in a fashion design school, Justin says that he has never been to art school. He got into leather, the material of Northamptonshire, by way of a leather supplier that also sold tools and held night classes on how to use them. Over the years he has experimented with different surface decoration techniques. He has also travelled with his work, spending time in Milan and Greece.
Thursday, July 13 is the date for Justin’s next canvas haversack making workshop and for details of all his workshops contact him on: email@example.com or 07925279025