Glance at the nubby hornback leather that composes a Cocodri (www.cocodri.com) clutch, and it's easy to imagine its former life as an alligator swimming through Louisiana marshes. According to Katie Tutwiler, co-owner of the Lafayette business that sells alligator skin belts, wallets and clutches handmade by local artisans, playing up the natural appearance of the alligator hide is consistent with her company's ethos.
"We wanted to build products that reflect the source from which they came," says Tutwiler, who co-owns the business with her mother, Mary Tutwiler. "It's not just leather, it's not just a thing — it comes from a real animal. A lot of designers lose that connection to nature. We think we maintain the aura of the animal."
Crafted from local alligator skins, the pieces are beautiful and durable. Tutwiler says a clutch could last a decade or more. By selling long-lasting heirloom pieces manufactured locally, Tutwiler hopes to support Louisiana's economic growth and position in the fashion market. "We are all about being a Louisiana company and supporting other Louisiana companies, such as the trappers and manufacturers," she says.
Cocodri pieces range in price from $105 for an eelskin cuff to $1,664 for an alligator clutch and are available at Style Lab for Men (3326 Magazine St., 304-5072; www.stylelabformen.com) and Ralph Goodyear Ltd. (2050 Magazine St., 525-1570).