The Emerging German Artisan Brand, ONDURA, Hand Makes Leather Products In a Conscious Manner
Many of the items we treasure were originally created for a very specific purpose. The form was informed by the functionality and these things were made to last. These values also make up the foundation of the emerging German leather maker ONDURA. It all started with a 20-year-old pocket knife sheath.
At the age of 12, Leens Jan Ondra joined the local boy scouts group in his hometown Bünde in Western Germany.
Leens quickly learned to appreciate the quality-made vintage military equipment that they relied on for camping. It was also during this time that he had is first experiences with handcraftsmanship of leather and wood.
A few years later, he got into the punk scene and the creativity of the way he dressed reached a peak.
How Leens’ Two Childhood Interests Has Formed His Career
Fast forward to 2013. Leens, who has trained as both carpenter and fashion designer, became fed up with the throwaway fashion industry. When he couldn’t find the biker wallet he was looking for, he spotted a way to get out. He took matters into his own hands and made it himself. This became the beginning of ONDURA.
The young German brand is a materialisation of the life Leens has lived. There’s the craftsmanship he learned as a carpenter; the understanding of the fashion world he gained as a designer; the minimalistic approach to functionality he brings from living for nearly 10 years in a 6 square metre house-truck he decked out himself. And let’s not forget, the appreciation of quality gear that he formed as a boy scout.
Leens thinks of ONDURA as a slow fashion brand. He believes that people who consciously choose products based on quality and functionality will appreciate what he makes. We can see why.
In his own words, he launched ONDURA because he wanted to make something great:
“I think it was a mixture of dissatisfaction with the fast fashion industry and a growing urge to make my own designs in a better, more conscious way.”
It all comes together in vegetable tanned leather wares that Leens handcrafts himself from mainly German materials.
Why the World Needs ONDURA and People Like Leens
The raw denim community isn’t exactly in shortage of leather makers. So do we need ONDURA? The short answer is, yes, we do. We asked Leens why leatherwear, in his opinion, has become so popular recently:
“I think it’s the same reason why raw denim is getting so popular. Raw denim and natural tanned leather sort of belong together. It’s the same lifestyle and philosophy. You can’t buy real authenticity; you have to live it.
Nowadays everything is getting faster and faster and the mainstream is always heading for new trends. I think it’s a natural conscious counter-movement searching for more quality and constancy. Not only in fashion.”
A recurring question we see is “how do I care for my leather wares?” Leens argues that items that see ‘heavy duty,’ like jackets or shoes, need more care than, for instance, a belt or a cardholder. Age is a factor as well and old leather needs more care to stay soft and smooth. Personally, Leens uses oil or leather wax to protect and to get a darker colour.
As for the future, Leens doesn’t want it to stop with leather gear. “I am not a saddler; I am a fashion designer,” he argues, and if all goes as plans, ONDURA will be a full-scale menswear brand five years down the road.