Claflin, Thayer & Co. Makes Quality Leather Goods in Oakland

Designer Liz Thayer has resurrected her family’s leather goods name for a store of her own in Temescal Alley.


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Liz Thayer is designing and making leather goods at her Temescal Alley shop Claflin, Thayer & Co.

Courtesy Claflin, Thayer & Co.

In the 1800s, designer Liz Thayer’s family owned and maintained a boot and shoe manufacturing company in New York in the 1800s called Claflin, Thayer & Co.

“It closed during the Great Depression, and many years later—totally unrelated—I moved to New York to study leather goods design,” she said. “After school, I began working as a shoe and accessory designer and started a side project making my own things. When it came time to name my company, the obvious choice was to resurrect the family name because of the leather connection.”

So Thayer’s heritage has come full circle. Thayer, who worked as a designer for other companies over the years, quit working full time in 2017 to “pursue my own projects.” However, she said, “The shop came up in October 2017, and it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I hustled to get up and running and opened in December 2017.” In Temescal Alley, Claflin Thayer fits right in with stores like Ali Golden, Baggu, and Minds Eye Vintage. Thayer not only carries her own line of leather goods—jackets, purses, and more—but she also stocks a range of products from other independent producers.

“I only carry things in my shop that I personally love and use,” she said. These goods include everything from beauty products to beanies, which sell surprisingly well, she added.

Thayer still does most of her own production—you can often find her in the shop working behind the counter. Her leather jackets, vests, and bags are all designed in-house.

“I’m primarily designing, cutting, and sewing everything myself. Making a jacket is a very involved process, but I really enjoy the hands-on aspect of working with leather,” she said.

Currently, her wearables are made to suit women’s or slighter frames, but several requests for men’s sizing have her considering the possibility. Thayer is very receptive to customer requests: “If 10 people ask if I sell a fanny pack, I’m definitely going to make some fanny packs.” While those of us with larger bodies may have to wait to take advantage of Thayer’s skills, there’s still so much to be had at her shop. You can visit the Claflin, Thayer & Co. brick and mortar Wednesday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and online at ClaflinThayer.com.

This report was originally published in our sister publication, the East Bay Monthly.

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