Leather is a popular feature of the gay community, both as fashion and culture. The leather community is often grouped with the fetish and s&m subcultures, but leather also makes a fashion statement, one that women seem to get away with more. There’s plenty of resources on the web for discovering more about leather culture, but when it comes to buying leather, there’s less information. Leather awakens all five senses; the sight, smell, sound, feel and taste of leather are much stronger than any other item of clothing. But leather is not always cheap, and you shouldn’t worry about saving a few bucks if it’s going to sacrifice quality.
High-quality leather will cost more, and it should, but treated well your leather will last so it’s a good investment. You can pay less, but when you compare the finished product the difference is obvious. My pants from Northbound Leather are well-fitted and have an amazing soft feel thanks to the thicker heavier Italian leather. I purchased a polo leather shirt from Fetish Freaks in London, but the leather is stiffer without the same intoxicating smell or smooth touch. You get what you pay for.
Buying leather online is also not easy; most sites are rough and could use a bit of work. The best sources for leather clothing and accessories are those that make their own products, and most have stores you can visit. Because leather, especially pants, should fit properly, shopping online requires you have accurate measurements. I’ve shopped from many leather companies so I have my favorites, and even though I can always find the best bargain, I don’t cheap out on my leather. Unfortunately I’ve bought too many cheap and low-quality leather products over years, so I hope you take my advice here. The worst purchase, low-rise shorts bought online from ebay.
Northbound is hands down my favorite leather shop with one of the best online selections. They have designed the widest range of pants, chaps, underwear, shirts and accessories available. Their leather clothing, especially their pants, vary greatly so you’re not stuck with the one popular 501 jeans style most leather makers stick to. And they will custom make anything you can dream up. Once a year Northbound holds an annual fashion show, demonstrating that leather can express kink and make a fashion statement. They also hold both one of the biggest annual fetish parties and regular small monthly events. The only store in Toronto, located just below their factory, is well-stocked and the staff are very friendly. I was intimidated on my first visit, sneaking in through the back entrance, but the staff quickly put me at ease. Check out their website and if you visit their store and don’t see the style you want, they can make anything from the catalogue to your measurements.
Priape has several locations across Canada specializing in underwear, swimwear, porn, sex toys and leather. They make their own leather clothing and accessories and can custom make anything for you. Slightly lower priced than Northbound, Priape selection is limited, but lately they have been using leather to express other fetishes, including motorcross, boxing, army and football. Priape also carries a wide selection of fetish gear and harnesses.
RoB of Amsterdam is a large European chain of leather and fetish stores with stores in Amsterdam, London, Manchester, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, and Zurich. Carrying a wide selection of harnesses and fetish gear, as well as leather clothing from head to toe, their clothing range is limited to a few styles, but they have made leather sportswear for some time. Compared to Northbound, their quality is equal, however their prices are similar or slightly higher, however in Euros so much higher with the exchange rate. If Northbound is my North American favorite for quality and selection, RoB is the European counterpart which means I compare other leather retailers to them. You can purchase most of their store online, however you must visit one of their stores for trousers and chaps as they insist on making the fit right. Even the leather jogging pants come uncut and need hemming, but they are made of a high-quality cowhide. I made the mistake of purchasing my leather tracksuit from an online German leather maker and was disappointed by the use of sheep leather, normally a softer leather, it doesn’t have the same feel and frankly I find the smell is awful.
Fetters is a UK outfit that carries one of the best selection of s&m accessories and equipment. Specifically in leather they stock harnesses, restraints, dungeon accessories, strait jackets, leather sheets, body bags and mail sacks. All high-quality, Fetters is less about fashion and entirely about the fetish. Their retailer store is located in the UK’s former shoe-making heartland (and outside London), however ordering online is simple with less to worry about with sizing.
Leather Maniacs has a rougher website but a good selection of styles in leather clothing including Leather Football Shorts. I purchased a pair of leather track pants and a tank top, and while I love the look and style of these items, they are made from lambskin (not leather) and came lined in cotton which is mentioned on the website.
This list of leather stores are based on the author’s personal experience which is almost growing with each new discovery. If you are a leather maker and want us to include you on this list, please contact us.