December 15, 2020

Behind the Brand: Understated Leather

This season at CURATEUR, we’re celebrating the power of accessories in elevating your style no matter what the occasion (or even no occasion at all). The impact of a well-appointed accessory simply can’t be understated. This is certainly the case with Understated Leather, an accessory and clothing brand with cool, unpretentious style woven in its DNA.

Founder of Understate Leather, Jennifer Kassell, brilliantly merges her Aussie roots with the brand’s iconic hometown of Austin to bring inimitable style to each of their leather and vegan leather pieces.

Below, we get the stylish Texan-Aussie’s take on what makes Understated Leather unique, the inspiration behind the brand, and more. Read on!

What was the impetus behind the brand Understated Leather?
I found myself at a crossroads in life to either continue down a path or take a risk into the unknown. For the first time, I was without direction in my career. The brand was unearthed from this personal discovery I had when deciding to take a breather and rediscover what I wanted from my future. During this time, my husband and I were collecting leather pieces from thrift stores and updating them for fun. The brand was organically born with a wholesome beginning and pure intentions to live a better, more creatively free life.

What inspired you to start your own leather goods brand?
I’m not a trained fashion designer; my background is purely in buying and wholesale. I always loved when brands would showcase a collection that read like a closet with a cool leather moto to layer. However, I knew this was a difficult thing to make for many brands who specialized in apparel. The initial concept of the brand was that we would collaborate with brands on developing this outerwear division with them. This is how we started, but after our first collaboration, it was clear that we had our own following and our customers were here to see what we had to offer. We don’t design for a trend or a moment, we design for our customers.

What has put Understated Leather on the map? How has the initial style evolved since (if at all)?
I’d say that both Free People and For Love & Lemons put Understated Leather on the map at first by raising their hands from the very first second to work with us. Also, when Inez from Inez & Vinoodh wore one of our jackets while doing a Vogue Paris photoshoot, she decided to include it in the main editorial shoot. We’ve had so many great “pinch me” moments like that.

Our intention is not to be a big well-known brand, we like that our customers feel a sense of discovery when they find us and purchase a special piece. Our style has not evolved too much since we started. Some of our best sellers today were designed in our first year of operation like the “Go Sit On A Cactus” jacket. Since then, we’ve been refining our fits, developing our leather quality and options, and adding more categories each season—like our Rodeo Robe knit from Core 2020 that sold out in two hours!

What influences the Understated Leather aesthetic?
I’m mainly influenced by vintage finds from various spots in Texas. Often with leather or suede garments from a past era, the item was custom hand-made by someone and is a unique one-of-kind, yet it feels as relevant and wearable as ever. We hope that our pieces grow with our customer and last for a lifetime.

What are your favorite ways to style the clutch featured in our winter curation?
I’ve been test driving this clutch since we designed it. I wear it with everything. I’ve worn it to yoga folded under my arm with my mat, I’ve worn it to events clutched in my hand with my favorite shoes and overly layered ensemble. I love that it goes with everything, but what I love most is that it holds the essentials and is so comfortable and easy to carry around all day.

Why do you think it’s so important to accessorize?
My personal style is very effortless. Even when I try really hard, I’ll always reconsider how I make my outfit look uncomplicated before I walk out the door. Considering that I prefer a minimally refined look, the right accessories are imperative. I wear my accessories intentionally. The right jewelry, the right bag, the right shoe. I love that our Crescent Clutch feels understated by design, but chic overall.

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