AN INTRODUCTION TO PARABELLUM
Five Four recently partnered with Parabellum, a luxury brand best known for working exclusively with bison leather, to design the perfect music festival wallet. In 2013, Parabellum was a top-10 finalist for the prestigious CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund, enabling promising brands to find continued success in the business of fashion.
I interviewed co-founder Mike Feldman to learn more Parabellum and what makes Saxon, our music festival wallet, such a special addition to any man's wardrobe.
Let’s start out by learning more about Parabellum. Can you tell us the brand story?
Parabellum is a company that Jason Jones and I started in 2008. We created Parabellum to explore what it means to make luxury leather goods right here in Los Angeles, and to redefine the design language of what that can possibly be. What we came up with is a combination of quality, durability, timeless design, and truly unique materials.
What are the challenges and rewards of having a luxury good company based out of Los Angeles, opposed to New York or Europe?
In the luxury goods space, most products are made in Europe and that’s staged front and center in their marketing, especially for American consumers. It’s not so much about the product, as it is the idea of where that product came from. Many brands believe that where a product comes from defines luxury, whereas we believe it should be the product that stands on its own and not its national origin.
We believe that here in LA, and domestically within the United States, relative to supply chain, design, and production, we can compete with the finest offerings from other parts of the world, including Europe. No one was doing that when we started Parabellum. We set out to plot our own course, build a supply chain using materials that no one else was using, and to hold ourselves to a higher creative standard with design by not duplicating other brands or designers. By innovating our own means of production here in LA, we intended to set an example for this town and the rest of the world.
WE SET OUT TO PLOT OUR OWN COURSE, BUILD A SUPPLY CHAIN USING
MATERIALS NO ONE ELSE WAS USING, AND TO HOLD OURSELVES TO A
Why did you choose to work with bison leather for Parabellum?
Individually, Jason and I had previous knowledge and experience working with bison. Jason used to be an apprentice for Henry Duarte, who is a premier leather artisan known for creating stage outfits for major rock artists. Through that experience, Jason worked with bison leather and came to appreciate its unique texture. As a history major who spent a lot of time in the rural west, I knew quite a bit about bison leather as well – it was a very valuable commodity in the 1800s.
We didn’t want to sell leather like everyone else – using hides bought on the wholesale market, tanned in a process that’s harmful to the environment, and potentially from an animal that’s mistreated or factory-raised. We hold ourselves to a higher standard, so we found something that was special, durable, and from a source that has a higher moral value and less of an environmental footprint.
Bison had this tremendous comeback where there were fewer than 1,000 and grew to approximately 500,000 in the past fifteen years. Right now, bison meat is the financial driver, whereas in the 1800s, the hides (and the leather made from them) were the driver. In 2008, we set out to take the hides that no one was using and put them on a pedestal, treat them with honor, and make products that are beautiful and have extreme longevity so people can enjoy them for a lifetime.
Can you tell us a little more about Saxon, the music festival wallet you've crafted exclusively for Five Four?
This wallet was designed for the tech-enabled, millennial generation. It’s smaller than a traditional bi-fold, thin enough for your front pocket, but wide enough for your back pocket. The bison leather is extremely thin, soft and stretchable, so it has a comfortable feel in your pocket. It will hold all your cash and credit cards and last forever. Saxon was made with suede on one side to lend an earthy feel and softness – it’s great for summer music festivals.