The Unsung Hero of the Leather Bag World
After nearly 100 years of manufacturing leather goods, Korchmar exists as an unsung hero in the luggage world. Founded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1917 by Russian immigrant Max Korchmar, the company started making visors for automotive headlights, then quickly shifted to making briefcases and luggage. Korchmar made products for the Army and Air Force during both WWI and WWII, and, in recent years, has contract manufactured for premium luggage brands around the world. The company is now owned by 62-year-old Michael Korchmar, the grandson of Max, who started working for the family business in 1977.
Along with producing luxury luggage for other brands, Korchmar offers 110 different products from weekenders and backpacks to briefcases and catalog cases. The company now bases its operations in Florida and owns one factory in the Sunshine State and one in the Dominican Republic. Korchmar doesn’t contract out work; it keeps everything from design to manufacturing and marketing within the company. “For me, the pleasure is in the creation,” Michael Korchmar said, “walking on the floor, training craftsmen.”
For the frequent traveler, Korchmar’s Twain weekender is a perfect bag for multi-day trips, and the 22-inch bag comes in three materials. The natural leather option is made with full-grain leather finished with environmentally friendly oils and waxes so it repels water and will age beautifully. For a more luxurious take, the Lux Twain features top selection leather with a water emulsion finish. The most rugged iteration of the bag is made from waxed canvas, sourced from a New Jersey mill that has produced canvas for the Army since the Spanish-American War. Each version of the Twain is lined with a yarn-dyed twill and features interior zippered pockets, exterior clamp-down ends and solid brass hardware. The Twain easily fits in airline overhead compartments and comfortably carries a few changes of clothes, a dopp kit and an extra pair of shoes.
Along with the weekenders, Korchmar offers a wide range of briefcases for business and professional settings. The company’s wheeled catalogue cases are favorites of airline pilots and lawyers, and through their expansive offering, Korchmar balances heritage with innovation. The Monroe leather attaché case is made the same way it was in the ‘30s, and the Lux Williams briefcase features a patented Magnetite closure system that can hold up to 15 pounds and can also be opened with one hand.
Michael Korchmar uses phrases like “integrity of product” when talking about his company’s luggage, and he takes pride in the fact that he’s a part of a four-generation, family-run business (his son and daughter are now involved in the company). He also cares deeply about American manufacturing and fair manufacturing practices outside of the country — Korchmar employs around 300 employees, most of whom have worked at the company for over 15 years. Michael Korchmar also serves as a trade advisor for the Department of Commerce. Currently, large companies are pushing legislation to remove duties on leather goods from other developed countries, a move that would spell trouble for smaller domestic brands like Korchmar. Though the outlook is uncertain at the moment, Michael Korchmar is optimistic for the coming year. It is the centennial of his grandfather’s brand, and he is already plotting the company’s future, writing a plan that will lead to success for generations to come.