Italy and Argentina: two countries that came to mind when you think of leather. Ecuador, however, should probably top that list, and the small town of Cotacachi should be any serious shoppers final destination.
Cotacachi is rural to the point of not even having a google street map, but that does not stop those who are in the know from flocking here to purchase high quality and incredibly priced leather goods. Avenida 10 de Agosto is a leather lovers dream. Everything from gloves and belts to shoes, jackets, bags and more can be found or custom made. Hundreds of leather shops dot the main thoroughfare that cuts through the town. Most sell buttery soft handcrafted products whose quality and artistry rivals some of the biggest brand names. The prices however, do not come close to the recognized labels we have grown so accustomed to paying big bucks for.
On the northeast corner of Avenida 10 de Agosto and Simon Bolivar, one shop in particular is a veritable gold mine. Thousands of variously sized bags and leather crafts fill the small space which is owned by a jovial elderly man who clearly knows his way around hides. While most stores on the street sell versions of the same, this little shop seemed to have its own unique products. Not just stocked with the standard briefcase and purse designs, Katie and I had trouble deciding what to buy.
After perusing the selection of gorgeous hides, we both settled on expandable camel duffel bags which harken back to movie stars and lovelier travel times. For only $55 each they were a steal- comparable bags in the states cost well into the hundreds, even more. The biggest regret I have from my entire trip was not buying the store out of the small stock of luxe carry-ons. Whenever I return to Ecuador, I’ll be sure to head straight to the corner shop to purchase more bags and whatever else they may have.