Leather tote bags ready to ship from the KMM & Co. studio

Ever wondered how your KMM & Co. tote gets made? It takes a lot of steps to create a tote, and the process involves tools such as needle and thread, blades and flame, even stamps and presses.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at how our best-selling product comes together at our studio in Atlanta!

Marvin cutting leather tote bags

1. It all starts with the perfect piece of leather

Each tote bag gets its start on the cutting table, where we inspect every cowhide and choose the exact piece of leather for your tote. There are always dozens of hides in stock at our studio, and we hand-select the perfect one for your bag.

Cutting out a tote

2. The tote gets cut from a single hide

Next, we cut each tote out of a single piece of full-grain leather. There’s nowhere to hide imperfections, so we cut carefully, using a pattern and a blade the old-fashioned way.

Pockets for leather tote bags on a cutting table

3. Each tote gets a matching pocket 

For every tote, there's a matching pocket. Each pocket gets cut out on a press, and each piece of leather is hand-picked to make sure that the pocket is a perfect match for the tote. 

Carl stitching a leather tote bag on a sewing machine

4. We stitch up the tote on an industrial sewing machine

The next stop is one of our industrial sewing machines, where both the tote and the pocket get meticulously stitched. There's no going back if the stitching is out of place, so we sew carefully!

 Preparing a tote for riveting

5. The tote gets prepared for riveting

In addition to stitched seams, each tote gets a riveted gusset. The next step in the process is to prepare the tote for riveting by carefully marking and punching holes for the traditional copper rivets. 

Traditional copper rivets on a table at the KMM & Co. studio

6. Then, we set the rivets

After the gussets are carefully measured and marked, the tote is ready for its first round of rivets to be set! At this point in the process, the tote gets 8 copper rivets, which we set by hand with a (very heavy) mallet. 

Tan Kodiak leather totes turned right-side out

7. Then, the tote gets turned right-side out

Ever wondered why you sometimes see an "X"-shaped marking on the front of the totes in our photos? Each tote is sewn and riveted inside-out. Then it gets turned right-side out, and because most of our leathers have pull-up (the characteristic that makes the leather lighten in areas of wear or stress), that "X" shape emerges during the process of turning the tote right-side out. It fades quickly once you start carrying the tote – and it begins to show a wear pattern that's unique to you.

Tai preparing interior straps for tote bags

8. Meanwhile, the pocket and sunglasses strap get hand-finished

While the body of the tote is at the riveting station, the matching pocket gets hand-finished. At the same point in the process, we also prepare a small keeper, or strap, that will go in the interior of the tote to hold your keys or sunglasses. 

Jess checking drop lengths on leather tote bags

9. Once all the pieces are ready, we can start work on the handles

Now that the tote is ready to go -- with stitching and rivets in place, and a matching pocket and keeper all prepared -- we start work on the handles. We double-check to make sure that we cut the right handles for each bag.

Juhyun trimming the handle of a leather tote bag

10. The handles get hand-cut from belting-weight leather

We make the handles out of 10-ounce belting leather, which breaks in and softens with use. They get cut by hand to the precise measurement for the drop length you selected. Then, we carefully punch holes to rivet the handles to the tote.

Alexis putting handles on a leather tote bag

11. Each set of handles gets matched to a tote

Because KMM & Co. totes are always made to order, the handles are cut to match the drop length selected by the customer. Once the handles are cut and the totes prepared, the handles get matched up to the correct tote. 

Riveting the handles

12. We hand-set the final rivets

The tote goes back to the riveting station, where we hand-set the tote’s handle, pocket, and interior strap with more copper rivets.

Embossing a leather tag

13. Your leather tag gets embossed

Now that your tote is finished, the final step is to personalize the leather tag that matches your bag. Your initials, nickname, favorite emoji, or mantra -- whatever you want on your tag, we'll emboss it by hand!

Juhyun working on leather billfold wallets

14. Matching accessories get made next

The tote is finished! But depending on the details of the order, our team may be just getting started. If you order matching accessories for your bag, we'll make sure to cut them out of a piece of leather that will coordinate well with the tote. All accessories are handmade and made to order, just like our tote bags.

Cardboard boxes containing leather tote bags from KMM & Co.

15. We pack it all up and send it on its way to you

The final stop for your tote (and any accessories!) is the shipping station, where we pack everything up for shipping. Next up? The post office! Every shipment goes to the post office the same day or the next morning after the label is printed. The USPS takes it from there, and delivers your tote right to your door.

While it's a long process to make a tote, it's an even longer process to break it in and make it yours. Your tote will show where it’s been with wear and patina, which makes it a true one-of-a-kind. 

Looking for the perfect tote? Browse our current collection here! If you need help choosing the right leather, learn which totes are slouchy and which ones are structured.

March 12, 2019 — Jess Bolluyt