This Shoemaking Heir Is Now Upcycling Bags From Leather Jackets

Don't miss Lori Almario's Cosimo Leathersmiths at the MaArte Fair.

( Anyone who's been around from the 1950s to the 1970s know that Gregg Shoes, a Filipino-made footwear brand, was the best there was in the market. It was founded in 1937 by Julio Gregorio who was born and raised in Marikina—home of the country's topnotch shoemakers. Eight decades on and this passion for leathermaking was passed on up to the third generation of the family, including Lori Almario who decided to focus on leather bags by opening Cosimo Leathersmiths on May 3. The ongoing MaArte Fair at The Peninsula Manila is the designer's first public appearance.

Unlike most leather companies, Almario uses old jackets and denim to create duffel bags, backpacks, laptop bags, and handbags. "It all started with an [old] jacket in my closet," she muses about the inspiration behind Cosimo Leathersmiths in an interview with Thanks to her 12-year experience in the garment industry in the United States, she knew that she can turn it into something else—"I said, 'Hey, I can put this together, the garment and the bags,'" she recalls. Friends and family (mostly from the U.S.) started donating used leather materials that she can work with, and the rest, as they say, is history.

PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz
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Cosimo Leathersmith's Duffel Bag (P28,000) Courtesy of Cosimo Leathersmiths

Almario's process is more than just cutting up the jacket and sewing it back together into a different form. "We try to get the style of the jacket first, conceptualize a design for it, then that's how we produce it. It takes a while because we still have to deconstruct the jacket, clean, [and] process it so it becomes new," she explains. With this attention to detail, it doesn't come as a surprise that their prices go as high as P28,000 for a duffel bag. "This is not fast fashion. It's very customized. Each and every jacket is different. Each and every bag is different," the entrepreneur adds.

In the future, Almario hopes to develop an efficient way where people can easily come to her with a pre-loved leather jacket that's up for a big transformation. She's also looking into upcycling other materials, expanding not only her designs but her own way of saving the environment.

MaArte Fair 2018 runs until August 12 at The Gallery, 3/F The Peninsula Manila, Ayala Avenue corner Makati Avenue, Makati City. Cosimo Leathersmiths is also having a booth at the upcoming ArteFino Fair from August 30 to September 2 at 8 Rockwell in Makati City. For more information, visit Cosimo Leathersmith's website.

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