I recently bought a leather bracelet from a company called, simply, Leather Braiding by John (LBbJ). Since I’ve been enjoying wearing bracelets this summer, I thought I’d try one of John’s braided designs. 

Leather braiding has its roots in western and nautical cultures. However, John is an urban braider, so while his pieces harks back to those traditions, he has developed styles outside of those realms. He uses kangaroo leather for its high tensile strength, then other leathers to allow for more intricate work. Each kangaroo hide is spiral cut by hand into a one inch wide strip, which he then cuts as needed into the various widths, ranging from 3/64s to 3/16s of an inch. Each hand cut strand is then beveled on the edges to give the braid a smooth finish. Besides the cutter/beveler, an awl and saddle soap are about the only tools he uses to craft the pieces. There are no glues or mechanical clasps. Some pieces have glass or silver beads, but other than that, this is as traditional leatherworking as you can get. 

The real beauty in John’s bracelets is in how he turns simple, repeated steps into unique, intricate designs. For example, the one I bought takes a braid made out of 8 strands of leather. The braid then splits into two braids made out of four strands, and then goes back again into an eight strand braid. There are then three Headhunter knots to cover the mechanics of the transition, and an Aztec Button knot to secure the bracelet on my wrist. 

Everything John makes is custom made. You pick the leather, size, and style. He also has a few pre-made bracelets on sale if you’re looking for a deal. I think the real gem, however, is his custom split braid bracelet in dark brown. It has a nice solid feel, and compliments wristwatches well without overpowering them. There’s also a bit of rugged, sophisticated elegance about the design, which makes the it easy to wear for those who might feel like bracelets are a bit too “dandy.” John charges $75 for them, but I think they’re pretty nice. 

Lately I’ve been inclined to wear slightly more decorative bracelets, mostly things with color. Perhaps it’s because they feel right for these hot summer days. Perhaps it’s because I’m inspired by Pitti Uomo, a menswear tradeshow known for its colorful, peacocking attendees. Or perhaps it’s because two of the best dressed men around, Ethan Desu and Enzo AGC, recently posted photos of themselves wearing colorful bracelets. Whatever the reason, I think they look great with a pair of chinos, button up shirt, and loafers. 

There are two really good options right now. The first is Burkman Brothers, an American workwear line that is selling sets of three bracelets for $30. Their bracelets have been getting some attention as Kanye has been seen wearing them (for whatever that’s worth). Unfortunately, they don’t let you choose which bracelets you get (you just get a random selection of three), but Singer 22 is allowing you to select your bracelet if you’re willing to pay a few more dollars. 

The second option is Ijitsa. They have a ton of models to choose from and, best of all, everything is made-to-order. You choose the material, colors, length, and style of how you want the bracelets to end. Everything is handmade in Conneticut, and the prices are pretty damn good. For about $8-10, you can add a bit of playful personality to what you normally wear. 

If these have too much “personality” for you, but you’d still like to get something, check out these bracelet Jesse found on eBay and the ones I found on Rakuten. I also really like the Tod’s and Hermes versions I wrote about a long time ago, but they’re pretty expensive. Much better, I think, to just get something from Burkman Brothers or Ijitsa

(photos: Pitti Uomo by StreetFSN, Ethan Desu by The Armoury, Tredici e Lupo by Guerre, Burkman Brothers, and Ijitsa).

I was poking around Rakuten the other night and found a bunch of bracelets that look kind of similar to the Flathead’s, which has been really popular in denim circles for a while now. They won’t develop that beautiful golden patina like Flathead’s, but they’re much cheaper, ranging anywhere from $20 to $40. If you’re interested, check out these three sellers: Kc-s, Juraice, and Binich

If you’re interested in the original stuff, check out Smalco and Ot-emens. They both have Flathead bracelets at a cheaper price than you’d normally find stateside. 

Note, these purchases are through Rakuten, a Japanese shopping website. Most of the sellers here speak English as a second language. I’ve bought many things on Rakuten and have met nothing but the nicest, most accommodating sellers, but you should know that you’ll have to work through some broken English if you want to communicate with them. You may also want to use Google Translate to read some of the Japanese characters on the site. 

They’re not for every man, but the leather bracelet has been in vogue recently. If they are to your taste, they can be a nice way to dress down a dressed-up outfit.

Most designer versions are prohibitively expensive. This Bottega Veneta version, for example, is $160. However, I stumbled upon a nice budget priced option on eBay. The Hong Kong-based seller “dreambell” offers the versions above (and a few more) for about ten bucks apiece, including shipping. I ordered a couple to try them out, and I’m very happy with what I got. No one will confuse them for Bottega Veneta, but they’re simple and handsome. Grab yours here.