As experiences rise to the top of retail priorities these days, brands can learn a lot from Hobo’s Leather Lounge activation, currently in place at Artists & Fleas retail emporium in its Soho location. While the impressive installation is an ode to the Hobo brand, it’s not all about them. The focus is on leather heritage, quality and craftsmanship, with other brands brought in to drive home this point.
As Artists & Fleas Founder, Amy Abrams, notes: “It really is a perfect collaboration as the Hobo brand has an incredibly rich heritage of artisanal quality and craftsmanship—which is the hallmark of the Artists & Fleas community. Personally, I have loved Hobo for many years. I have a beloved Hobo bag purchased 20+ years ago that is now a vintage piece, classic in its design and totally on trend today.”
In accordance with Hobo’s ethos of celebrating artisans, the Leather Lounge includes a Makers Marketplace comprised of handmade goods from Bunsai Leather, Hudson & Kings, The Divine Tribe, Tactile Craftworks, and Rilleau Leather. On select Saturdays, the Leather Lounge will also host local artisans performing live leather crafting in the form of stamping, painting, and carving. Customers can purchase these one-of-a-kind customized pieces directly from the artisans themselves, often having them customized while they wait.
Naturally, it’s all very earthy, and cozy, with a Hobo Joe coffee corner and leather chairs and ottomans for lounging. And it smells divine.
But back to Hobo. The Leather Lounge is a nostalgic tribute to the childhood of Hobo Owner and Design Director, Koren Ray. She grew up watching artisans hand make leather goods while sitting underneath the craft benches of her mother’s store, Georgetown Leather in Washington, D.C.
Hippie artists would wait on long lines to get in and and Georgetown Leather’s influence remains key in Hobo’s boho aesthetic today. “Georgetown is where I fell in love with leather, its smell, the unique patina it acquires with age and the discipline to create authentic leather goods that are made to last. I will forever feel nostalgic to the spirit of Georgetown Leather. The Hobo Leather Lounge is our way of celebrating leather craft and its artisans, which remains at the heart of everything we do at Hobo. It is my take on what a Hobo store experience should be and the backdrop for the foundation of our collection,” says Ray.
The Leather Lounge include some of Hobo’s classic designs, including the Lauren wallet (which has sold over 1 million pieces since its launch), but it also features a curated assortment of 1970s vintage, one-of-a-kind leather accessories from founder Koren Ray’s personal collection. Hobo will also debut its men’s collection launch at the lounge, retailing from $50 to $598.
Hobo will also be unveiling a limited-edition Artisan Series collaboration with artist and actress, Jemima Kirke (English-American artist and actress best known for her role as Jessa Johansson on the television series Girls), at the Lounge. These hand-painted, bespoke handbags will become available on the brand’s website in mid-November. A portion of proceeds will go to Project Create as part of Hobo’s #LivetheCode platform, which aims to raise awareness for Arts education in the lives of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness and poverty.
Hobo’s Leather Lounge will also become an unplugged music venue on Nov. 6, 13, and 20. Sofar Sounds NYC, a grassroots network of artists from around the globe who curate very exclusive and intimate performances in unique spaces, will be bringing this unique experience to the Hobo Leather Lounge. While guests would normally apply for tickets and wait for an invitation to Sofar Sounds’ events, the Hobo community has guaranteed entry by using the code HOBO-F8BAA. Tickets will be $15.