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“Craftsmanship then wasn’t a hobby or matter of fashion. Personal reputations could not survive producing anything less than unfaltering excellence and durability. If what you sold or build as your trade wasn’t built to last, you didn’t last.”
— MISSION MERCANTILE
An Outpost for Excellence
We established Mission Mercantile based on the belief that excellence is not disposable, that manufacturing techniques centuries old need not be obsolete, and that true value rests far beyond the instant gratification of how well a product looks and functions today. The true measure of quality in our committed view is how well a product looks, functions and becomes part of you … far into tomorrow.
We proudly produce all our hand-crafted wares in one of our wholly-owned North American factories that are located in Texas and the world-renowned leather region of Mexico. Our presence in both locations ensures we always have access to the absolute best materials and local expert artisans who are all committed to our Handshake Promise Guarantee. We do have a portion of our Ellington line of bags and accessories that are not yet made in one of our two factories and so we will transition those products in 2017. We have design teams that live and work in both the US and Mexico. We source leather, canvas and materials known for their quality and durability from the US, Mexico, Italy and other worldwide sources.
So while most of the world is preoccupied with looking for shortcuts in an ever accelerating cycle of faster, easier, more, and repeat, our passion for distinctive leather goods and the skilled, patient craftsmanship of another era sent us looking for a longcut approach to Mission Mercantile’s materials and construction.
We use exclusively the highest quality, most durable and distinctive leather available anywhere: our leather is carefully selected by discerning eyes, hide by hide.
Unlike the vast majority of leather products, which are processed or otherwise compromised for uniformity, the aesthetic integrity of our full-grain leather selection is indelible like the lines in the palm of your hand or an artist’s brushstroke on canvas. The natural surface of full-grain leather possesses an abundance of unique character that will unfailingly burnish and beautify with age.
The genuine, highest quality vegetable tanning we apply to some of our full-grain leather additionally enhances its distinctive refinement over time. Utilizing the organic tannins found in plants, bark, and the like, the traditional craft of vegetable tanning — developed over thousands of years — affords rich natural colors and warm tones through a process that, even with today’s innovations, still demands exacting skill and extensive hours to render. The age-old vegetable tanning method requires 40 days and begins with a high-quality, raw, salted hide and ends with a finished hide proudly displaying its long-lasting, sweet aroma and rich finish that patinas with age. We wouldn’t dishonor the noble art of vegetable tanning on a substandard hide. Our customers see, smell and feel the heritage inside every Mission Mercantile product.
Beyond the distinguished authentic patina vegetable tanning lends to our remarkable leather goods, this natural process is also the most eco-friendly, devoid of the harmful heavy metals and other toxic substances associated with chemical treatments. Our tanner is Gold Medallion Rated by the Leather Working Group, an international organization whose mission is to promote sustainable and appropriate environmental stewardship practices within the leather industry.
We believe that functionality dictates form. In the tradition of mercantile store-era implements and other products, there is no embellishment to any Mission Mercantile leather good that is not rooted in usefulness and longevity. When a product features canvas, we use a brawny 18-oz. waxed heavyweight canvas. Our ultra-durable, polyester stitching is derived from the most uncompromising aesthetic and structural traditions of heritage leather craftsmanship — and each thoughtfully placed rivet and piece of hardware is sourced for durability, functionality and longevity.
The materials we use and the construction techniques we have refined to produce our remarkable leather products all stem from the inspiration Mission Mercantile draws from the bygone tradition of our nation’s mercantile stores.
Those vital outposts, so integral to the fabric of whole communities, delivered genuine value for those who depended on it most. They simply could not keep their doors open unless everything they sold was true and reliable. Flashy packaging or catchy slogans did not exist then. Advertising was word of mouth and individuals staked their good name on every product. A man’s word was his bond, credit was secured with a handshake, and the integrity of materials and construction was inseparable from the craftsman’s personal integrity.
By definition, anyone who launches an enterprise is focused on the future. Mission Mercantile just happens to believe in materials and craftsmanship drawn from the enduring achievements of the past.
When Travel was Bold as Brass
As distant steamship journeys became more and more popular among well-heeled Americans headed to fashionable resorts and other destinations, the rapidly growing volume of bags and trunks presented a challenge. In order to reliably secure and track personal luggage, a simple system was put in place. The resulting metal baggage tags, rendered primarily in brass, typically displayed the issuing steamship’s — or, later, railroad’s — name and route along with an ID number to match items to their owner, who would be issued a duplicate.
Not long into the 20th century, these small, elegant brass (or occasionally pewter) pieces were gradually replaced with the disposable paper variety. And since most of those brass tags ended up melted down during two world war’s worth of scrap metal drives, the relatively few originals to survive have become coveted collector’s items, precious emblems of a simpler time.