LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles-based men’s leather-goods line Parabellum, which pairs free-range American bison leather with high-tech ceramic hardware in its bags, belts, shoes and small leather goods, is branching into women’s accessories.
Launching next month at Maxfield in Los Angeles, Fivestory in New York and Huzza in Harbor Springs, Mich., the Emmeline and the Medicine Woman handbags ($900 to $950 wholesale) are, like the men’s wares, classic shapes meant to last a lifetime.
All pieces come in black, tan and gray, but the brand has also introduced purple and cobalt to the palette this season. Also new for fall is a collaboration with Los Angeles shoemaker George Esquivel for lace-up oxfords and ankle boots for men and women ($600 to $700 wholesale) and with Oliver Peoples for limited-edition sunglasses in a Parabellum case ($695 retail).
Launched in 2010 at Colette and Maxfield, the men’s line, which ranges from $60 wholesale for a key fob to $1,200 wholesale for a duffel bag, is worn by a diverse clientele that includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Orlando Bloom, Anthony Kiedis, Mos Def and Giovanni Ribisi. The details, from laser-etched logos and numbering on each buckle to finely stitched corners, weren’t lost on women, who also began scooping up pieces like the narrow belt.
What differentiates bison leather from bovine leather is the deeply grained texture of hides — not to be confused with water-buffalo hides, which are thinner. Bison leather comes from free-range animals raised for meat in the Midwest. The older the animal, the deeper the grain, so the company uses bison ranging from seven to 30 years old.
Cofounders Mike Feldman and Jason Jones, both avid fans of Americana and new technology, wanted to combine the old and the new, so for the hardware, they sourced a ceramic typically used by the military as an antiballistic material on the outside of tanks or on vests. Each belt is also lined with Kevlar to ensure longevity. While there appears to be a military theme running through the brand—its logo is a “P” flanked by two swords, to signify past and present, and the phrase “si vis pacem parabellum,” is Latin for “desire peace, prepare for war” — Feldman insists they are a peaceful sort, noting the “righteous” way the bison are raised by small organic herders.
Jones, a Los Angeles native, first came across bison leather used in a holster in his stepfather’s antique store, Used Stuff. “I was taken with the patina it had after so many years. I knew it was something special,” he recalled. A self-taught designer who left school after ninth grade, Jones, 41, the brand’s creative director, began working in retail at 18 and moonlighting for designer Henry Duarte, known for custom leather outfits worn by rockers like Lenny Kravitz. Ever the entrepreneur, he later opened Acme, a Japanese anime culture and video-game store on Melrose Avenue.
Back then, Feldman, 36, owned a company called Pyramat, through which he sold a video-game chair he invented at age 22, which won the Best of CES award in the gaming category at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2003. He met Jones when selling the chairs to Acme, but both knew they had another calling.
“In a corner of the store, I saw these shirts Jason made, and I could tell he was a brilliant designer,” said Feldman. “We both knew we wanted to do something else, so when I sold my company, we had a golden opportunity to start our own thing.” The two formally incorporated Parabellum in 2007.
Feldman and Jones are fond of collaborations outside the fashion space. They created a table, with a bison-leather top and bronze base, for Blackman Cruz that sold for $20,000, as well as $4,200 leather medicine balls that will be in store in October. Next, they’re looking at doing interiors for the pricy Icon 4x4 off-road jeep. But both insist on keeping their brand’s distribution tight. The line is currently in 15 stores worldwide, including Bergdorf Goodman and United Arrows.
Their showroom, in a converted Hollywood garage where a taxidermied bison head hangs on the wall between the bags, is filled with horn cups, antique swords and other Americana, along with piles of hides waiting to go to their leather workshop nearby. Said Feldman, “In a perfect world, we’d be in a glass-and-concrete office on a couple hundred acres in Ojai [Calif.], with bison roaming around.”
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)
Breaking News: @hedislimane joins @celine as its new artistic, creative and image director. One of fashion’s preeminent image-makers and trendsetters, Slimane is to join the LVMH brand on Feb. 1 and unveil his first fashion proposition for men and women next September during Paris Fashion Week. It marks a major homecoming for Slimane, who cemented his reputation – and influenced men’s tailoring for more than a decade – as the designer of Dior Homme between 2000 and 2007. He went on to reinvent and ignite the house of Yves Saint Laurent, which he rechristened Saint Laurent, between 2012 and 2016 – all the while maintaining a close relationship with the Arnault family, which controls LVMH and Dior. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
“Personally I believe the Eighties have been the richest and more vivacious period for international fashion,” Giorgio Armani said when asked what his favorite decade of fashion is. It was a moment of disruption and experimentation and only thinking back to the first years of that decade is always an emotion for me, for what they have meant to me and my work.” The influence is clear in @giorgioarmani spring 2018 collection, pictured here, which was full of bright colors and unexpected prints. Read more about which decades designers loved most on WWD.com #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
For Lady Gaga’s only Italian show on her “Joanne World Tour,” the singer wore a range of @versace_official outfits. The standout piece: this custom-made bodysuit inspired by the brand’s spring 2018 collection. #wwdfashion (RG: @ladygaga)
@_camillaruth_ is expanding on the wellness-craze concept with @westbourne – a new NYC restaurant that’s both a healthy-minded café as well as a business that gives back to the community. Marcus works with the Robin Hood foundation to give back to The Door, a non-profit providing youth development services, and also hires employees through The Door. Read our full interview with Marcus on giving back through food on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)