Between its three heritage brands — Buxton, Dopp and Field & Stream — Buxton is built on 354 years of leathergoods craftsmanship.
The Buxton side of the story started when Dana Buxton lost his keys more than 110 years ago in Springfield, Mass. His wife, Julia, made him a leather pouch to keep the keys together; when his friends saw the invention, it took off. Other leather goods were added to the collection and the company quickly outgrew its humble origins.
“Take the craftsmanship and legacy of Buxton’s 116 years, Dopp’s 95 years and Field & Stream’s 143 years and you’ve got a combined 354 years of heritage,” says Buxton president Eric Lund. “Our advantage is that we can draw on that heritage and the fact that we are truly an American brand. The challenge is to not rest on your heritage, but to stand out. With that backbone, we are able to move forward with new trends and direction.”
Buxton’s retailers range from mass and moderate merchants like JCPenney and Macy’s to better department stores like Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. Field & Stream, of course, has a large presence in outdoor stores.
Dopp, which Buxton acquired in 1979, was known for the travel kits that were standard issue for American soldiers during WWII. The brand was founded in 1919 when Charles Doppelt, a German immigrant in Chicago, started making his patented kits. Today, the name Dopp is synonymous with personal accessories, but like Stetson and Velcro, it’s actually a trademarked brand.
Field & Stream joined the Buxton family just last year but its history goes nearly a century and a half—even before the well-known magazine was launched. As a brand, it traces its roots to two Minnesota fur traders, Richards Gordon and Paul Ferguson, in 1871. The magazine came about in 1895 and currently boasts a readership of nearly 10 million. Buxton is licensed to produce luggage and small leather goods under the Field & Stream name.
On the product front, Lund says the bag category is particularly dynamic across all three brands. “Our customers are very interested in what we’re doing in bags—gear bags, cross-body, urban and messenger shapes and slings. We’re also excited about personal leather goods, which is our fundamental business. We’re working with some luxe leathers with a great hand-feel in contemporary shapes for a younger audience. Like front pocket wallets and slimmer accessories. The “magic” wallet style, invented by waiters in France in the 1920s to safely stow tips works especially well in these thin shapes.”
All of Buxton’s brands boast RFID shielding. “We were the first to introduce RFID shielding in our small leather goods and today we’re manufacturing that RFID standard into all of our pocket accessories,” says Lund. “There’s a real threat out there and this security is a very important part of our collection in all brands.”
While the Dopp collection includes a full range of wallets, bags and leather accessories, Lund says the Dopp travel kits remain a wonderful expanding category. “We have many new shapes and ways of separating wet from dry in the kits. We hang them, fold them over left to right or top to bottom and make them in express shapes, which are about 30 percent smaller than our traditional kits. It’s all about speed and efficiency getting through airport lines.”
Dopp’s SoHo collection, a higher end accessories made from in rich, beautiful leathers retailing for $75 to $250, launched this year.