Launched in 2013, Boda Skins is a global fashion brand famous for its leather jackets.
Founder Nathan Alexander is a skilled product-designer and entrepreneur who has spent the last 10 years designing leather jackets. He is passionate about designing high quality clothing that stands the test of time.
After failing to find stockists in Manchester and Cheshire, the brand was trialled using the WKNDR pop-up stores in 23 locations around the world, including Paris, LA, New York and Sydney, which helped build a customer base and provide a personal shopping experience.
BODA SKINS was also one of the first brands to use Instagram as a marketing tool, sending their jackets to online influencers so they could promote them to their followers.
They now sell worldwide through their website and with 1000 five star reviews it’s clear that customers just can’t get enough.They’ve also picked up a few famous fans along the way, with Justin Timberlake, Olivia Palermo, Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Khloe Kardashian and Cheryl having worn their jackets.
Despite their global success, BODA SKINS has its roots firmly placed in Manchester after investing half a million pounds in new premises in Salford and will expand its collection to include clothing and accessories in 2019.
We spoke to Nathan about the brand’s origins, his inspirations and aspirations for the future.
How did you get started in fashion?
I studied product design at university, then when I finished I was quite convinced that I didn’t want to be a product designer. I was seeing a Turkish girl at the time who said “Why don’t you come to Turkey and live with me?” so I did. I started going to the markets and buying t-shirts and hoodies and selling them on eBay but it wasn’t a sustainable business. Then one day I was playing pool in a bar and I met a guy who owned a leather factory. I’d always had an obsession about leather jackets since I was a kid – when my mum came back from New York she bought me and my brother two leather jackets and it was my favourite item of clothing.
I had a real emotional attachment to it so when found out he owned a factory I was like “I need to go and check this out”, so I went the next day with a bit of a hangover. It was a small factory with only 12 people; the way they were making leather was incredible but their styles were really outdated. It wasn’t really a business then, I just wanted to design my perfect leather jacket. I spent two weeks designing jackets in the factory and brought three back with me. I walked around all the shops in Didsbury and nobody would take any orders, so I went back to what I knew, selling them on eBay. The momentum started to build so I made my first website and listed the products on there, and that’s when I took on my first employee who is now my director.
Where do you get your design inspiration from?
I have a pile of designers that I love but the way I design is I’ll just spend hours upon hours – sometimes days or months – compiling every image that I like and put them all on the wall. Then I go through every aspect I love and put them together to make the ultimate jacket. I look at everything that’s out there and try to make something better. The latest shearling collection was two years in the making and it was a really big success. I was really nervous about it because we’d never sold a product for over £1000 on our website – it’s almost double what we normally sella jacket for – but they all sold out in 20 minutes. I made sure the product was perfect and it just shows if you put a lot of time and love into something, people recognise it.
What are you currently working on?
Now we’ve built this wonderful audience who love us, they want more from us, so we’re bringing out a denim collection which is due to launch at the beginning of February, and we’re also launching a jersey collection, which will be the perfect undergarment to wear with the leather jacket. There’s also caps and belts, and a jewellery collection that I launched a few years ago which we’re going to expand.
How do you ensure your brand is sustainable for the environment?
We make good quality products that last a long time that aren’t so fashion focused, and charge a reasonable price for them. Our products are fashionable but I design wardrobe staples that people fall in love with. If everybody paid a little bit more for products, they’d last in our wardrobes a lot longer.
What are your aspirations for the brand?
We’ve always been a global brand but my main aim is to launch in the US and a big dream of mine is go to into the Chinese market; I think a British brand would do well over there.