A tote bag commands the shelf it sits atop, accented by high-end silver conchos, a hint of turquoise that glimmers in the light, and the subtle addition of fringe on each side.
“It’s made of chap-weight leather,” the maker, Paige Albrecht, mentions to a customer with a discerning eye. Chap weight, the words themselves are so ingrained in western cowboy culture that it’s hard to picture the same material strutting into a board room, slung over the shoulder of a powerful woman. Yet, it makes perfect sense. Chaps are meant to stand the test of time; they are functional while representing authenticity and the unique style of the wearer.
The Paige Leather ethos is similar. Each purse, bag or accessory evokes the classic designs and overarching moods of the Old West fused with the trappings of modern day, fashion-forward, powerful women. This duality blends so seamlessly in the designs and products because creator and artist Paige Albrecht embodies those same traits.
Her adoration of horsemanship inspired the functionality and classic western styles seen in Paige Leather, while the creativity and attention to detail comes from Paige’s critically acclaimed artistic career.
“My mom’s side of the family are all artistic in one form or another and my art was nurtured growing up,” Paige shares. Early on in her career, equine associations looking for unique year-end awards noticed Paige’s drawings and paintings. “With my art I was passionate about portraying the modern cowboy. With most western art these days, you see a romanticized, idealized cowboy - you don’t see what it’s like working on a cattle ranch day in and day out. There are great stories to tell there.”
Envision the bold and powerful cowgirl of old - guns slung on either side of her hips, a wry smile on her lips. Paige’s art is a homage to western culture and Paige Leather is designed for the emblazoned and bold woman. As her artistic career began taking off, she felt she needed to embody that same timelessness in her own personal style. Inspired by the pages of Cowboys & Indians magazine, the artist began to create wide leather belts; the 'gunslinger' and 'corset' styles that are now so popular were born during this period. The designs that encompass Paige Leather may be inspired by a bygone era, yet they are modern and attractive and just like true women of the west... strong, yet beautiful at the same time.
Her belts were originally a complimentary product to the art that hung from the walls of her booths, but soon began to sell rapidly among women who appreciated the craftsmanship and art within Paige’s leatherwork as well.
“The leatherwork really called to me. I attacked my leather working skills, wanting to do the absolute best by the pieces I created.”
The purses and accessories that soon followed were a natural progression, loved by women across in the arena, and the office. Yet the passion for the beauty of the pieces is what drove Paige, “I would go leather shopping and would fall in love with each different piece of leather, turquoise or concho I saw. The purses came from that organically, it was so fun to buy beautiful leather and create something special from that.”
In the same way the cowgirls of the west blazed their own trails, Paige Albrecht is doing the same within her business. “I really believe in going big, or going home. You know, you grow up as a small-town girl and sometimes you think, 'I can’t do that, I can’t build this hugely successful company.' But I know I can. I try to be brave, I try to stay ahead of the curve. I think to myself, if I want to sell you something that is high end, I have embody that timelessness and offer you high-quality, classic pieces.”
“People will stare. Make it worth their while.” TOM FORD
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