North Beach Leather was established by Michael Hoban and Frank Morgan in the mid 1960s as a leather goods store in Los Angeles, California. In 1967 the shop was moved to San Francisco, to the North Beach section of town, hence the name. Hoban’s leather designs were a hit, and a branch was soon opened in Berkeley.
North Beach Leather did custom work for movers and shakers such as Elton and Elvis Presley. The designs were known for their boldness in both color and design. They were also known for their priciness.
By the early 2000s, there were eleven North Beach Leather stores, but financial difficulties caused all but the San Francisco store to close in 2004. Hoban left the company, which was acquired by its general manager, Skip Pas.
Skip told EJW that the business is now known as West Coast Leather, which took over after North Beach shut down. He also said that he has dealt with the Rocket Man.
EJW: What is your work history like?
SP: I'm the founder and designer for West Coast Leather, and was previously the Assistant Designer of North Beach Leather and General Manager from 1985 to 2003.
EJW: How did you meet Elton?
SP: I helped him in our Chicago Water Tower Place location back around 1994. He spent a small fortune.
Elton tried on jacket leather jackets in front of a mirror and we had a rolling rack, and he'd try them on and decide yes or no. It was quite a scene.
EJW: Do you still assist stars?
SP: Yes, we still help lots of celebrities. Our clothes have also been featured in videos.
Across, the pond, another company of interest is even older. Corgi was founded in 1892 by Carmarthenshire draper Rhys Jones who, having purchased some second-hand knitting machines, began to produce thigh-high woollen stockings for the local colliers. He then began to produce a range of finer quality socks, ideal for men to wear to chapel on Sundays.
From the beginning, Rhys paid very close attention to detail and quality and as the reputation of his products grew, demand spread across the whole of South Wales and beyond.
Now, over a century and four generations later, the company is managed by Rhys’ great, great grandchildren Chris Jones and Lisa Wood. The former spoke with this Web site about his business and clients, who have included Sir Elton.
EJW: Corgi produces a lot more than socks nowadays, isn't that right?
CJ: Yes, we expanded to knitwear in the early '60s. And we've made garments for quite a few well-known people.
EJW: Who are some of them?
CJ: They have included U.S. presidents. Many years ago, a letter from President Dwight D. Eisenhower was sent to, to my grandfather, Glyn Jones, thanking Corgi for fashioning him a pair of cashmere socks.
He even had his name tag sewn into the socks in case they should get lost!
More recently, we have made clothes for Prince Charles, William and Harry. Elton John has also been a customer.
EJW: What sort of assignment did that involve?
CJ: Corgi once did a party outfit for Elton and David Furnish, matching romper suits in pink and blue. We also made a large cashmere bed throw for him one year, which designer Thom Browne gave him as a birthday gift.
EJW: Is the company named after the Queen's favourite dog, by any chance?
CJ: It is indeed, as this is also a Welsh dog. And I consider it very appropriate, with our Royal warrant!