It started in 1970. After receiving a gift of leather working tools from his girlfriend (who would later become his wife), Frank Clegg started crafting original leather pieces while still in college. It wasn’t a professional pursuit, but as a lifelong artist and maker, he took to leather with the same passion and joy that he brought to any other medium. The results were exceptional, and by the mid-seventies, he had his own line of original designs and a reputation for impeccable craftsmanship paired with the finest leathers.
This was the post-Woodstock era, and the market was ripe for authentic handmade goods that went against the mainstream consumerism of previous generations. Mom-and-pop shops and curated boutiques across the country carried Frank Clegg bags that they ordered through sales reps and catalogs. Maintaining the quality of his namesake brand, Frank Clegg was involved in every aspect of the business, keeping craftsmanship and design at the forefront.
A Chapter on Resilience
After more than a decade of steadily growing success for Frank Clegg Leatherworks, the fashion industry started changing in the late eighties and early nineties. The market started to shift toward bigger brands, and production was moving overseas to keep manufacturing costs low. As a result, Frank Clegg watched many of his friends and fellow makers go out of business.
Clegg struggled, too. As consumers flocked to malls and shopping centers with large recognizable brands, mom-and-pop shops were closing down and the orders for his private line were decreasing. Rather than compromising the integrity of his products, or the livelihood of his growing family, Frank Clegg found a way to continue his passion and craft while adjusting to a new era.
For the next twenty years, Frank Clegg Leatherworks would produce fine leather goods for private label clients. While his personal line remained in production in smaller quantities, his handcrafted products were still enjoyed by consumers who now wanted internationally-recognized brands from big-box stores.
Trusting the quality craftsmanship of Frank Clegg Leatherworks, these luxury brands allowed the factory and business to remain intact and on American soil while steadily growing into the next retail innovation: the internet.
The Next Generation
The internet created an entirely new platform for makers to connect directly with the shopper. Clegg saw the opportunity to directly reach people who valued quality leather goods (despite their geographical location), and the chance to return to his original collection.
His two sons were now college-aged and built the first website for the family business to expand online: becoming one of the earliest adopters to the vast world of online retail. With an operating online store, the now-modernized Frank Clegg Leatherworks was wholly welcomed online and soon grew an international following. The world was eager to be connected with brands they could know and trust, and Americans craved products with traceable origins and ethical manufacturing practices.
As the Clegg brothers graduated college, their involvement in the business grew. Both had grown up exposed to their father’s craft - absorbing the trade from an early age - but they each developed their own interests within the business. Andrew had a natural passion for the leatherwork and craft of his father, while Ian enjoyed the business and operations of the brand. Over the next several years, the business would transition again - to the brothers managing and operating the family business under the active mentorship of their father.
Looking to the Future
In over fifty years of business, the Frank Clegg objectives have remained the same: find the best material, partner with the best people, and create the best products.
It’s this philosophy that pulses through their Fall River, Massachusetts factory and within the team of the craftspeople who work there. Frank, his two sons, and this extended family of makers continue to honor the commitment they’ve upheld through each season of the last half century: to craft the finest American leather goods - with no part of the production outsourced.
In the near future, this Made-in-America brand will continue its growth into new product categories and offerings - always expanding at a steady pace while remaining dedicated to the standard of quality and service first established by Frank Clegg over fifty years ago. It is this commitment, dedication, and passion that is woven throughout their history, and will endure through the continuing legacy of Frank Clegg Leatherworks.