Kelly Miller: Customer Leather Jacket Maker

photo: Kelly Miller

When you dream about doing a thing, sometimes you have to just take a step towards making it happen and see where it takes you. That’s what happened when Kelly Miller stumbled upon an expert patternmaker in Paris and created something she always dreamed about, a bespoke leather motorcycle jacket. She was recently featured on this article in Forbes.

What I love about this story is how Kelly started, like many business owners, scratching her own itch. For her that went from finding to eventually creating the thing she wanted and then to fitting it to her own style and sensibilities. Though these jackets look at home in a high-fashion boutique she uses reclaimed handbag and lining materials keeping to her scrappy roots.

I also love the quote that she has on her site from Yohji Yamamoto, “Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy, you will find yourself.” I know many now professional leather goods makers who started their journey this way. As a beginning maker, you often don’t know why you like something. It’s only after repeatedly examining, dissecting and, like Yohji advises, copying do you start to understand what design principles embody a piece and what resonates with you.

Read the Forbes article on Kelly here.

8 replies on “Kelly Miller: Customer Leather Jacket Maker

  • marlys sellmeyer

    Thanks! Deeply inspiring and encouraging! I loved the “copy, copy, copy” comment. I was feeling guilty about trying to copy what I love. Now I feel vindicated! Your article and Kelly’s story was liberating. Thanks Fineleatherworking, you’re the bomb!

    Reply
    • Nancy

      I’m going to push back on this sentiment. It’s not ok to “copy, copy, copy”, it’s simply not ethical….Rather than taking, be inspired, inspired, inspired!!!!!! If you like something, like say a Langlitz leather jacket, a company and product developed over time since 1947, then let it inspire you. To rip something off, to copy it verbatim to then sell it or present it as your own is NOT ok!!!! I’m not sure what Kelly Millers underlying message is other than it’s A-OK to steal someone else’s intellectual property… My advice, do the work, put in the time and then make something of your own. Be inspired, by all means let existing work inspire you, but give them credit by telling the world that their jackets, bags and clothing influenced you….do not be a thief, do not take something that is not yours.

      Reply
      • Fine Leather

        Hi Nancy! Thanks for reading our post and for your insight. I think the sentiment here was not to copy for production purposes, but to copy techniques and designs just for your own learning – much like a musician might practice songs from his/her favorite artist in order to expand their repertoire and ability before writing their own music. I hope this helps!

        Reply
  • Fine Leather

    Glad we could be of some encouragement, Marlys! You’re work is consistently inspiring and, without a doubt, we’ll all be copying you one day!

    Reply
    • Fine Leather

      We all have so much to learn from those who have come before us. Copying the work of others is a great way to learn and understand the techniques of those we admire and we can learn a bit more about our own style in the process.

      Reply

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