Pelle Pelle is a fashion design firm based in Michigan that has produced leather outerwear since 1978. Since then, the term “Pelle Leather” has come to be synonymous with Pelle Pelle’s line of leather goods, which now spans outerwear, purses, belts and other accessories. Pelle Leather isn’t a term for a tanning or dying process, but rather the goods of a particular manufacturer.
Marc Buchanan founded Pelle Pelle in 1978 with an emphasis on creating a line of leather outerwear that wasn’t afraid to catch people’s eye. Although critics responded to it variously--calling it eye-catching or garish--Pelle Pelle’s leather has never been known for its conservatism. Always centered on urban tastes, Pelle Pelle leather enjoys an affiliation with hip-hop culture, especially after it spun off its lifestyle line that was the first to feature baggy, oversized pants.
In recent years, Pelle Pelle’s leather men’s outerwear hasn’t backed down from the line’s over-the-top aesthetic. Transforming the classic studded-leather look of punk and metal into something more urban with the use of sparkling appliqués and bold, patch-emblazoned iconography, Pelle Pelle’s treatment of leather frequently opts to dress it up more than to let its natural characteristics shine through. Other options, such as embossing and large, faux-diamond studded back pieces make Pelle Pelle’s leather jackets just as noticeable 30 years after the line was invented.
Pelle Pelle’s women’s leather jacket lines follow many of the same trends as men’s jackets, though Pelle Pelle plays up the ladies’ line with additional use of studded rhinestones, with a heavy emphasis on high-detail graphics, with thousands of stones and studs used in pieces with larger back packages. Because of the weight of the appliqués, studs and leather’s natural heft, Pelle Pelle leather jackets weigh considerably more than typical jackets.
Beginning in 2010, Pelle Pelle introduced a line of women’s leather handbags. Spinning off the design elements from the jacket lines, these purses feature leather-on-leather appliqués and highly intricate rhinestone and stud detail work. Able to complement a Pelle Pelle jacket with a corresponding design or as a stand-alone accessory, Pelle Pelle handbags make the logical jump from jackets to handbags. The craftsmanship and design elegance of Buchanan’s original outerwear pieces is repurposed for use in leather handbags.
For a company known for its leatherwork, belts were a no-brainer addition to the Pelle Pelle line. While the constraints imposed by a belt’s small size and utility hold back some of Buchanan’s wilder design ideas, Pelle Pelle belts, like the company’s handbags, emphasize the forceful designs for which Pelle Pelle has always been known.
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Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.