One to Watch: Caputo & Co

Venezuela native Alexander Caputo has always had a special talent for leather work.

"Since I was young, I have been making knotted leather bracelets for friends and family," explains the accessories designer, who relocated to New York City to pursue a lifetime love of fashion.

Upon graduating from FIT, Caputo cut his teeth at the Gap working beneath creative director Emma Hill. "After seeing the first sample that I designed -- a handbag -- I knew that I had found my passion," he says.

This fall, Caputo launched his first solo venture, Caputo & Co, intent on marrying his Venezuela upbringing with his appreciation for tough, American craft. "It's American soul with a Central American heart," Caputo says of his utilitarian messenger bags, key rings, and small leather goods finished with traditional Venezuelan fabrics.

Using vegetable-dyed leathers and hand-woven textiles, each piece as is sturdy as it is handsome to look at. Luxurious finishings, including wax cording and hardy brass hardware, ensure that every bag can withstand a lifetime of use.

Caputo's dedication to quality materials is rivaled only by his concern for sustainable practices. The entire collection is produced in Guatemala in what the designer describes as "one of the finest, eco-friendly factories in the world."

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