Equally at home in the barn or in civilized life.
Just in time for the holidays, I thought it would be fun to review something that’s both highly functional as well as stylish (even though we all know my personal style may in fact be slightly lacking). Cue these lovely, custom leather bags by Dara James Designs.
Even if I may not know what the big deal is about Monolos, as an equestrian I do have an intrinsic love of beautiful leather goods. I also like things that are functional and durable since I can be rather hard on things. Given those two facts alone it’s not shocking that I love these handmade bags.
Each bag is custom made using different types of leather (calf hide, buffalo, goatskin, nubuck, smooth grain, textured, etc) and colors, in a variety of designs and styles. The leather choices and textures are nearly infinite and are specifically selected depending on your desired use. The lining of the bags varies as well, but the one I tested was lined with Supplex nylon, which is used for sports/technical clothing and can easily be washed off.
Given my penchant for pink (yes, I frequently indulge my inner twelve-year-old) this is the bag I tested:
This particular bag is made from cowhide; the pale pink is a smooth, matte finish leather while the black is a pebble grain cowhide. Both feel incredibly soft and supple, yet have proven quite strong. The inside of the bag, as noted above, is lined with Supplex Nylon and easily washes out. This particular bag also included a removable pouch with a strap also made of the Supplex nylon.
So far this bag has been lugged to horse shows to carry brushes, rags, and other grooming supplies ringside, then cleaned and used as a formal bag while I attended the USDF ‘L Program,’ and finally doubled as a school bag to lug my laptop to class. Shockingly, I have not yet managed to rip, tear, break, or stain it (and we know I’ve not really done anything to actively avoid those possibilities). As a horse show bag the additional pouch was perfect for carrying smaller items, like treats or safety pins, and keeping them easily accessible. Its ease of cleaning also meant I didn’t have a bag full of dirt and cookie crumbs. As a more formal bag this smaller pouch could double as a wallet or be removed to allow for additional space.
The bag I tested was a fairly simple, durable, square tote but there are quite a few other designs available; the degree of intricacy is only limited by your imagination. Here are a few other examples of her work:
In addition to the fabulous bags, Dara James Designs also makes custom spur straps, belts, and stock ties. These are equally exquisite and allow for a myriad assortment of styles, colors, and embellishment options. Given the quality and variety her site is well worth a visit this holiday season (or just to indulge yourself).
Morgane Schmidt Gabriel is a 33-year-old teacher/artist/dressage trainer/show announcer/ who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. A native Floridian, she now lives in Reno, NV, where she’s been able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless. Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She was recently able to complete her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently working on her gold. Generally speaking her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, a now gawky 5-year-old Dutch gelding, and Stormy, her friend’s nearly all white paint gelding with a penchant for finding every mud hole and pee spot in existence. Visit her website at www.theideaoforder.com.