I was recently saddened to learn that Leather Masters, a leather store in Dallas with a 31-year history, is going to close permanently as a direct result from the financial impact of the coronavirus shutdown. I have shopped this wonderful store many times over the years while in Dallas for the International LeatherSIR / Leatherboy Contest. Their booth at the leather vendor mart in DC during Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend was also always popular. At one time they also had stores in San Antonio and Allentown, Pennsylvania. Those stores had already closed. Many people have asked me over the years where to go in person or online to find quality leather gear. In hopes that the community will support and help those stores that are still hanging on, I would like to offer these suggestions.
Shopping in person for leather in Baltimore is limited. Leather Underground by Maus located at 136 West Read Street (catty-cornered from the Drinkery bar) is the only leather store in town that does repairs, custom work, and sells leather attire, BDSM gear, and toys. The Leather Underground has been a part of Baltimore’s leather community for decades. At one point the store was called Chained Desires. When Maus took over shortly after Chained Desires closed in August of 2015, he renamed the store Leather Underground by Maus. The only other location for leather gear in Baltimore is the newly reopened leather store at the Baltimore Eagle. As I write this everything in Baltimore is stilled closed due to the city’s “stay at home orders.” You can still shop the Baltimore Eagle store online at Baltimoreeagle.com and they are doing curbside pickup.
Last year I decided it was time to buy a new black leather biker jacket. For many years I have been wearing the jacket that I got from one of my club brothers, Don. He was a ShipMate for decades and sold me his leather jacket when he moved to Florida. I’m sure if that jacket could talk, I would really have something to write! The last few years it was getting hard to zip up in the front. It seems that I was unable to lose my holiday weight. (Unfortunately, that holiday was Christmas 2008). I passed my jacket on to a new ShipMate brother. It fit him perfectly. With limited choices in the area to shop, I went online. A few years ago, Sir Steve got his leather jacket from Leather Up. Leather Up started in a storefront in downtown LA in 1999 and has grown to be a huge internet retailer of in-house made motorcycle gear. I found a black leather biker jacket that I love for way less than what I could find in a store or at a leather vendor mart. If you are looking for leather jackets, vest, or boots go to Leatherup.com and check them out.
You will not find harnesses and restraints at Leather Up. My ShipMate club vest came from The Leather Man (111 Christopher Street, New York). This iconic leather store opened in 1965 when founder Chuck Mueller quit his day job to make leather clothing. You can shop this first-class SM leather fetish clothing and gear store online at The-leather-man-inc.shoplightspeed.com. Don’t be put off by high prices. This is the good stuff and it will last. As Dolly Parton likes to say, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap!”
Another top-notch leather store that I have visited a few times is Mr. S (385 8th Street) in San Francisco. Since 1979 Mr. S has been fitting the leather community with handcrafted leather and gear. Visit them at Mr-s-leather-com.
No article about highly regarded leather stores would be complete without mentioning Northbound Leather located in Toronto, Canada (7 St. Nicholas Street). Founded in 1987, Northbound is Canada’s first and largest leather / fetish retailer and launched one of the first leather retail web sites in 1994. They have dressed countless leather titleholders and celebrities such as Madonna and Lady Gaga. Go to Northbound.com to shop this famous leather company.
During my trip to Florida a few months ago, I made sure I did a little shopping. No trip to Fort Lauderdale would be complete without stopping by LeatherWerks at 1226 Northeast 4th Avenue. (There is also a smaller LeatherWerks inside the Ramrod bar.) This full-service store was founded in 1995 by The Bear Man and Eric Lawrence and is the premier leather and fetish shop in the Southeast. If you cannot find what you want or want something different, their leather artisans can make it for you. You can shop in person or online at LeatherWerks.com.
There are also a few other fun stores that are not so far away. In Washington, DC, try Trickbox. This fetish boutique at 2300 Rhode Island Avenue NE sells everything from Northbound leather, Ballistic Metal, and a wide range of gear and toys. Details can be found at Trickboxdc.com.
In Philadelphia the place for leather, latex, and fantasy fashions since 1998 is Passional Boutique at 317 South Street. Visit in person or shop Passionalboutique.com.
Not far from Philadelphia is the wonderful historic town of New Hope.
When I’m at the leather vendor mart at Mid-Atlantic Leather in DC, I always say hello to the friendly people from LeChateau Exotique located at 97 South Main Street in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Details about their store can be found at Fetishwear.com.
The leather vendor mart at the International Mr. Leather Contest each year in Chicago is huge and draws thousands of shoppers. I’m sure it is very profitable for our leather retailers.
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, IML is cancelled for 2020. Please support the above leather / fetish stores. Like all of our LGBT and LGBT-friendly businesses they are going to need our support. We need retailers like the ones listed. Without them and others like them, I don’t know where we can get the gear we want!
- Rodney is originally from Hagerstown, Maryland and for many years has lived in Baltimore. In April 2017, Rodney was sworn in for his 10th year as the President of the ShipMates Club of Baltimore. He has been involved in the leather community for many years, but often denies that he sold Jell-O shots at The Last Supper. He has been writing THE LEATHER LINE for the BALTIMORE OUTLOUD newspaper (Baltimoreoutloud.com.) for over fourteen years. He has produced the Mr. & Ms. Baltimore Eagle Contest and the Maryland LeatherSIR/Leatherboy Contest. In 2001 he was proud to serve as Maryland Mr. Drummer 2001. Rodney also does stand-up comedy and in 2013 was thrilled to perform at Philadelphia Leather Pride Night. He has been nominated multiple times for a Pantheon of Leather Award, was selected Leather Man of the Year in 2013 by COMMAND M.C. and by the Baltimore Leather Association of the Deaf in 2006. The 11th annual 12 Days of Christmas benefit show was dedicated to Rodney and his partner Sir Steve. He has been twice selected as ShipMate of the Year. He has judged Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2015, Atlantic States LeatherSIR / Leatherboy and recently judged Mr. Eagle NYC 2018. He is delighted to be able to bring news of his beloved leather community to his readers every issue.