Historic local brand Taylor’s Leatherwear opens on the Lynchburg Square

Purses, purses, and more purses have been the biggest seller at Lynchburg’s newest small business, according to owner Rachel Patton, who creates some signature designs herself. (A Lynchburg Times Photo)

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Take an over 80 year old local company, inject some youth, creativity, and business savvy into it and you’d have Lynchburg’s newest small business, Taylor’s Leatherwear.

Owner Rachel Patton relocated her leather boutique from the Motlow College area to downtown Lynchburg in June. The latest iteration of the historic business reflects both its storied history and the personality of the newest owner. Rachel is the third generation of Pattons to run Taylor’s Leatherwear.

Originally founded in Tullahoma in the 1940s as the Appalachian Tanning Company, Rachel’s grandparents, JB and Nancy Patton, bought the company from their best friends, Red and Bernice Taylor, around 1966.

“My dad, David Patton, planned to return to Tullahoma after graduating from the University of Kentucky,” Rachel says. “So, he and my grandfather went into business together. The Taylors built a strong brand name and reputation, so they decided to keep the name.”

Moving the needle in leather jacket industry

Owner Rachel Patton is the third generation of Pattons to run Taylor’s Leatherwear. (A Lynchburg Times Photo)

The family owned and operated company made a name for itself in the leather jacket industry. Today, they supply jackets for virtually every major police department in the United States, and many commercial and private airlines. Their designs were even worn in the classic TV show, Hill Street Blues and modern shows like Gotham and Sleepy Hollow, but when Rachel took over the business a little over 10 years ago, she immediately spotted a need not being filled in the leather outerwear industry.

“Dad did all the uniform jackets but hadn’t focused on women’s jackets because he thought they were too difficult to fit. I just rolled my eyes,” Rachel jokes. “I could see the growth happening in the numbers of lady police officers and pilots happening across the U.S., so I decided to expand there.”

Her gamble paid off. Within a few months, she’d won a contract for her new women’s line with the Georgia State Police and things really took off from there.

“It really opened up some opportunities that we hadn’t had before,” she says. “There were plenty of other suppliers in the industry, but they were also ignoring women. We were able to get business that a lot of other suppliers couldn’t get because we were willing to customize and fit every single officer.”

A little something for everyone

Her newest iteration, the Lynchburg boutique, combines her art design background with the family’s long tradition of all things leather. The new location still offers the company’s bread-and-butter motorcycle, law enforcement, and aviation jackets with some signature designs and the most fun and creative all-leather items Rachel can find.

“I started to design some bags of my own, which we make right here in southern, middle Tennessee. Others are produced overseas. I also went to the Atlanta Market at AmericasMart for the first time in January and sought the coolest only-leather stuff I could find.”

When she opened – and based on the numbers of two-wheeled riders that visit The Jack Daniel Distillery each year – Rachel says she thought motorcycle jackets would be her biggest sellers. Instead, it’s been purses, purses, purses.

“Even the men like them,” Rachel says. “They’ll often tell me they plan to bring their girlfriend, wife, or mom back in and sure enough, they do. The funkier the color and style, the better. That’s what everyone gravitates towards.”

She also sells little girls’ purses, children’s accessories, wallets, belts, leather Dopp kits, and leather cleaning kits. Rachel says inventory changes from week-to-week and even day-to-day. She also updates styles based on the season and the latest trends. For visitors who shop but don’t have room in their suitcases, she can ship anywhere. She also offers gift wrap, gift cards, and a generous exchange policy.

“It’s the thought that counts, but sometimes folks miss the mark,” she laughs. “I want the receiver to be happy, so we help them get exactly what they want.”

Taylor’s Leatherwear is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 12-5 p.m. They close each Monday, and Tuesday. If you want to shop their full catalog, learn more about their history, and read endless posts on how to wear, style, and care for fine leather, check out their website by clicking here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We tells the stories of local folks here in Lynchburg as well as those happening across Tennessee and the American South that we believe may be of interest to our readers. Like what we’re doing? You can support us for just $5 per month by following this link.}