Look good, write well: 4 gifts for writers in 2014

New Year's Gifts For Writers

The biggest New Year’s resolution for writers (in 2014 and in previous years) is simply to write. Whether 80 words or 8,000 words, daily writing is essential – and it’s something a writer can only do for himself. But I know plenty of loved ones want to find the perfect way to show support of writers in their lives – and fancy pens seem to be the go-to gift. They’re beautiful and functional, but they’re also arguably one of the least practical, most-gifted items given to writers during the holidays. Anyone who enjoys writing – whether prose or correspondence – should own a nice pen, but no more than one really fancy pen is needed.

There are plenty of nice everyday objects that can help organize and inspire the authors and wordsmiths in your midst. As someone who writes and edits upwards of 3,000 words a day, I looked through Billykirk’s online collection and found four beautiful and functional gifts I think any writer would appreciate to start the New Year.

1. The leather journal holder. 

Leather journal holder

A welcome alternate to a book with blank pages, this journal holder adds a nice facelift to the notebook your friend is already working her way through. Sized to easily fit in a backpack, purse or satchel, it’s perfecting for jotting down ideas on a train, park bench or wherever inspiration strikes, and a pen will always be handy thanks to its built-in pencil-holding clasp.

2. The schoolboy satchel.

Leather schoolboy satchel

The leather schoolboy satchel looks important, but not pretentious. It has a timeless nostalgia, seeming to be something Hemingway or Anne Patchett would wear with equal delight. And it would look smart on anyone who aspires to be professionally creative. With compartments that can easily fit a portfolio or manuscript, a laptop and whatever magazine or book a writer is reading in a given moment, it’s practical – while also a nice way to dress for the job you want.

3. The pencil case.

Canvas pencil case

Great to stash in or on a desk, keep in a leather satchel  (ahem, see gift idea No.2) or tuck away somewhere with a reserve of those aforementioned fancy pens. The pencil case is a simple-but-handy gift, unassumingly stylish in worn-in canvas, which also helps absorb the mess of any ink leaks. Plus, someone in a writing profession is always the first person expected to have a writing implement on hand: He’ll always know where to find this case and look super on top of the pen situation.

4. The canvas iPad sleeve.

iPad sleeve in olive

While I’m admittedly not inspired by the thought of writing on tablets, friends are increasingly citing this as the journal of the future. Especially those working as on-the-ground journalists. Many of my friends who write have put iPad sleeves on their wish lists this year, and I think this olive one is a great option. While I also like the Billykirk version available in leather, the canvas one would nicely fit inside a larger satchel – and it still looks good as a standalone carry item.

These are great tools to add to a writers’ kit, and here are some reflections on writing to get pens moving and keyboards tapping in 2014:

 “The Getaway Car” (excerpt), by Anne Patchett, as posted by Byliner.

Leather boxes for simple wrapping with style

American-made leather box

hand-stitched leather box

The logic behind wrapping gifts feels flawed: Spending time putting something together that’s intended to be ripped apart. So we’re putting together something that you’ll want to save. Hand-stitched, American-made leather boxes.

These are in the works, and may be available in more colors soon. You won’t find them on our site, but can request orders by contacting us.

If you’re last-minute shopping for this holiday season, be sure to check out our stocking stuffer ideas, as well as our seasonal bags and menswear ideas.

Concrete paperweights: Sturdy, solid style

Concrete paperweights designer homeware

Paperweights have been around as long as desks, but the earliest recognized “classic” paperweights came up in the 1840s, and they were generally made of glass. We think today’s standards invite more sturdy construction, so ours are not your traditional floral weights.

We got together with Concrete Cat to cast some of our classic Billykirk wallets, card cases and other compatibles into durable paperweights.

Concrete paperweights designer homeware1.jpg

Why concrete?

Concrete paperweights designer homeware2.jpg

Just like our leather is sourced to last and age, we find that concrete has industrial strength but can be sculpted for artistry: We promise the casting system we use doesn’t turn out a cinder block. Our paperweights look and feel like real stone, and each one is unique. Concrete Cat is a partner who makes concrete that is reliable, yet somewhat unpredictable: Each weight has its own shade that comes from a unique toning process.

What’s more is just like we can tell you where every inch of our leather comes from, the materials used by Concrete Cat are sourced within the U.S. and Canada. Environmentally sustainable from places with fair compensation standards.

Industrial strength with style

Check out some of our newest homeware items.

concrete homeware, Billykirk

Like a good leather bag, these weights will show some natural wear with age that makes them more customized.

Inside look: Classic & limited edition trucker wallets

leather trucker wallet

The pioneers of America’s paved highways kept chained pocket wallets so they could travel freely, riding fast or picking up stranded trekkers and roadside pies, alike.

American truck driving

A moto driver told me his chained wallet is a matter of fashion, though it’s handy, but for 1950s truckers, chained wallets were essential. These highway travelers were generally called Knights of the Road, known for helping hitchhikers or drivers less adept at navigating the open pavement. Chained wallets meant no worries about losing some essential object during random acts of chivalry. They helped fuel the mystique and toughness that made truckers known as modern cowboys – men could be men, and still keep their cash together.

leather trucker wallets

Whether you’re looking for a chain or not, a trucker wallet should be built for the everyday uninhibited journey. No fuss, just sturdy, reliable and ruggedly good-looking.

Billykirk’s classic No.263-163 trucker wallet is made from American-sourced harness-grade leather, featuring a chain of dull nickel (nothing shiny), and a smaller version of this snap wallet has the same look, but is built to a metro pass-friendly size that makes it functionally modern.

I admit to preferring the unchained options, including the limited edition No.263 leather wallet in Olive – made from Argentinean leather with brass hardware, and a version in Tan Pebbled Grain from Chicago’s Horween leather company. The pebbled variety is ready-made with marks. Both are available online only while supplies last.

all-leather trucker wallets

Chained, unchained, pebbled or otherwise, they’re all designed for today’s urban frontier, whether you’re traveling by truck, train, bike or foot.

Fall style in the bag: Seasonal satchels

Billykirk fall leather

Chris and Kirk Bray have been passing around the leather each fall since childhood days playing football. Whether you’re a sports fan, scholar, both or neither, there are certain autumnal images that are timeless.

We’ve handpicked some of the latest Billykirk collection bags (and an old favorite) that are perfect companions as the colder weather sets in. They bear the look of school bags and seasonal carryalls your grandparents might have carried, with modern American-made craftsmanship to handle the weight of your everyday travels.

1. Plaid Carryall

Medium plaid carryall

Tartans were traditionally worn in Scotland to symbolize clans and they were cemented as part of America’s back-to-school season iconography around the 1940s when plaid became a popular element of school uniforms, showing which school a student attended.

Plaid’s association to U.S. cool weather work dates back even further thanks to the legend of lumberjack Paul Bunyan (arguably from Michigan, Maine, Oregon or perhaps Canada – depending on who you ask).

New this season and available now, the blue and black plaid with leather carryall from Billykirk is suitable for school, work or play.

2. Small No. 164 Olive Waxed-Cotton CarryallSmall Olive Waxed Cotton Caryall

We love a rustic olive shade for the fall season.

This bag isn’t meant to bring to mind the guacamole American appliances of the 1960s (although they have their place in design). It’s a bit darker – more in the style of patriotic olive drab (OD), and a nice contrast to bright leaves in the transitional season.

The small carryall  shown is great to bring on a coffee run as you trade iced beverages for warm ones.  This version will be on line in mid-November.  Waxed for water resistance and whatever the autumn elements bring your way.  If you can’t wait until then we do offer the same style carryall in  an olive water-repellent material.  Find it  on-line HERE.

3.  The All-Leather Schoolboy Satchel

The predecessor of today’s backpack (first made famous by Shakespeare), you don’t have to be a schoolboy to appreciate a fine leather satchel. While they bring to mind (stylish) children heading for the classroom, they also make good briefcases and are a nice alternative to some other functional and fashionable cross-body bags.

Leather satchelBillykirk’s all-leather satchel in tan or brown Dublin is ideal for the autumn season. Hard-wearing – and also hard to keep in stock. We expect more of these in brown Dublin and the tan Dublin in a couple of weeks. 

You’ll find more fall bags and other seasonal accessories in Billykirk’s latest Lookbook. And please leave a comment about your favorite seasonal bags.