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When Hans Koch set up shop in 1980, money was so tight that the designer didn't have a sewing machine. Today—although business is good and his bold, geometric leather accessories and jewelry sell for hundreds of dollars—his store retains a small-business, DIY feel. Koch oversees the entire production process, cutting and gluing the colorful leathers himself before handing them over to two assistants who then sew them into bags and belts. For the German-born craftsman, who studied exclusively with ex-Bauhaus designers, that level of artistic control is the cornerstone of his business, particularly since he began working in accessories after feeling creatively stifled by his former job in textile design. Thanks to his self-imposed autonomy, Koch does what he wants, happily eschewing wholesale deals, advertising, and the temptation to ever repeat a design; he abides by a strict rule to make just one of every item. His form-follows-function background is evident in his pieces: Most bags have straps that easily convert from handbag to shoulder-bag length, and many shoulder bags can also be worn as backpacks. While his leather comes mainly from a wholesaler in Munich, the glass beads Koch uses to fashion his chunky necklaces come from anywhere—Brazil, China, Paris—he's swept through during his travels.Extra
Twice a year, the entire stock is discounted 50 percent to make room for the new season's wares.