For luxury leather goods brands, a logo is essentially a “calling card.” For Louis Vuitton, it’s the interlocking L and V. Coach is synonymous with the horse and buggy. When Celine removed the accent from atop the first E, brand loyalists were so outraged it sent social media into a frenzy.
But Leatherology, a direct-to-consumer leather brand that first launched in 2008, wants a consumer’s own logo—or rather, their monogram—to be the company’s signature that will not only distinguish themselves in a crowded market, but also protect the brand from falling out of favor when trends change.
Over the last 12 years, Leatherology has rolled out more and more customizable monogram options for consumers. Those options include a classic embossed or gold-foil as well as more unique options, such as a hand-painted monogram in a variety of colors, and more recently, the addition of trapunto, a style of embroidered stitching that few of Leatherology’s competitors offer. The latter two in particular are Leatherology’s signature options that truly identify an item as its own.
“We’re constantly asking ourselves like, ‘How do we take it to the next level?’” said Rae Liu, Leatherology’s co-founder. “Nowadays, a lot of people are offering monogramming. So we were thinking for a long time, ‘What else we can do that’s really classic and something that you might want to use for a while?’”
In came trapunto, which Liu said the brand hopes will further distinguish its goods from competitors, because there’s nearly no other option like it in the marketplace.
The hope is that Leatherology’s distinctive offerings will act as a logo of sorts for the company, a “calling card,” Liu said. When people see a trapunto monogram, they’ll hopefully recognize it as a Leatherology item. But when the signature item is reflective of the consumer, not the company, she said that there’s likely a greater chance the item will become a yearslong addition to their closets. After all, a person’s name stays in style longer than a brand’s logo often does.
By letting a person’s initials be the “logo” in question, Liu said they feel it has a greater chance of standing the test of time, rather than cycle in and out with fashion trends. In fact, Leatherology’s reluctance to incorporate a logo of its own comes in large part from a desire to increase the longevity of its products.
“Logos are often trends,” Liu said. “Something is popular for a while, and everyone has that logo on their bag, and then it isn’t. It’s hard to make a product that has real longevity if it’s got a logo all over it.”
It’s also about giving consumers the chance to truly have a hand in the creation of their item. They choose which monogram they want, the color, the style—it’s all up to them.
“We want to put the power in the hands of the customer and have them really create something for themselves,” Liu said. “Our hope is that if it’s created for yourself, you want to use it for a really long time.”
Of course, incorporating personalization to a product is much more complex than placing a uniform logo across all items. It takes more time to be sure, but also requires a bit more trust on the part of the consumer. No monogram is the same. David Liu, Leatherology’s co-founder, said that the company’s vertical integration helps in this. Everything from manufacturing to monogramming is done in house. “Because we own the process, we’re actually able to enable this made to order experience for the customer,” he said.
Of course, if a consumer isn’t buying a product for a recognizable logo, they’re buying it for another reason. Beyond exclusive-to-Leatherology personalization options, Rae Liu said that at foundational level, the product must be top-of-the-line quality wise.
“If you don’t have a logo on the product, someone’s buying it for the product itself, for the quality,” she said. “It’s almost like it’s even more important for the product to stand up for itself.”