Palmer Trading Company isn’t just a line of high-end, made-in-the-USA products from partners and designers David Ramirez and Willy Chavarria, it’s also a shop on Sullivan Street in downtown NYC. But whether it’s the gear or the store, Palmer’s take on Americana—classic, inviting, and well crafted—is something to be reckoned with. We’ve got a selection of their wallets, belts, and other leather goods on Gilt MAN today, so we stopped by the shop to talk with David about the brand, and what makes their stuff so special.
So how did Palmer Trading Company come to be?
It started about five years ago with my partner Willy and I. We were antique pickers for a hobby, and we have a home in Palmer, MA that we decorated with all of our vintage finds. The house was overflowing with them, so we decided to start selling things in New York. And that’s how Palmer Trading Company was born.
We gained a following, and people were asking if we had a store, and that’s how we got the idea that we should make a home for what we were doing. We opened in October 2010 as a vintage store, but it seemed like a natural evolution to bring in new products, all sticking to the same theme of “Made in America.”
House brand or not, everything from Palmer is made in the States?
Tell me about your in-house line.
Our first branded collection came within the first six months we were open. It was small leather goods, belts, and bags, made in Massachusetts, Maine, or Brooklyn. Then we moved into apparel. We brought in our shirting, our chinos, and now we’re doing our shoes for Fall 2012 and we’ve got an exclusive jean made in collaboration with the Dickies 1922 collection coming out.
Why is quality leather like the stuff from Chicago’s famous Horween tannery—which you used for the leather goods in our sale—worth investing in?
What we gather from our own experience is that guys, when they buy a wallet, for example, they tend to stick with it. If you switch it up, it’s only every five, ten, fifteen years. So it’s extremely important that quality be built into it and that you use the right type of leather. Otherwise, it’s a disposable item. And a really good wallet should be heirloom quality. You should have the type of wallet you can pass on to your kid, when it’s all broken in and has all that character. That’s the inspiration for us making the best stuff we could with the best leather we could.
I’m sure you’re excited about everything in the sale, but does anything stand out in particular in your book?
Well there’s an English bridle leather belt with the oxidized brass buckle and a copper prong and rivets, and that’s out of Brooklyn. But we’re also really excited about the slip wallet. It’s kind of like a card case, but you’ve got this extra little flap for your cash.
That’s a great combo: All the streamlined goodness of a card case, with the added convenience of actually being able to stash your cash in the same place.
It’s perfect. I’m really excited about the design—Willy and I worked on it—and I think it’s going to break in beautifully.
How about that shell cordovan shoehorn? When I first saw that I thought it was unbelievably cool.
Awesome, right? It’s another kind of heritage, heirloom piece in my mind. It’s one of those essential items that you should just have, and it’s only going to get more beautiful with age. It’s a very cool piece to be able to pass down.
That’s important to us: We’re trying not to do disposable items. Of course we love and encourage repeat customers, but what makes us most happy is when somebody buys something and is happy with it, and comes back for something else, as opposed to a replacement.