Written by Steven Chen

When is a bag just a bag? The short answer is never, according to Spencer Nikosey, founder and owner of KILLSPENCER, an accessories and leather goods company based proudly in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood—a.k.a. the city’s oft-celebrated and frequently touted cultural mecca of all things forward. 

Before he launched the brand, Nikosey did his due diligence and toured factories in L.A. and China to get a lay of the manufacturing landscape. When all was said and done, he came to one conclusion: Without question, he would have to do it himself. “It’s not like some warehouse storing all the product. We have raw materials like a kitchen. They come in, we cook up our fucking meals, and we send them out all over the world,” Nikosey says. “I think that when you know that someone has cared for something they’ve made that you’ve purchased, you care for it that much better, and you’ll have much better experiences with it.” In short, the person who thinks it and draws it and designs it should be one who rolls up his sleeves and makes the damn thing. There’s quote from the book The Steve Jobs Way that Nikosey takes dead seriously: “Love what you make. Make it to perfection.”

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True to his word, the KILLSPENCER workshop/store hybrid is not just a testament to handmade craftsmanship and high-end design, but a firm flag in the ground for the “Made in L.A.” moniker. Literally, if you were to visit his Sunset Blvd. space and purchase a bag, the makers, tools, and instruments behind said bag would all be perfectly visible beyond the register, all of them churning with a fervent precision honed over the company’s six-year history. ”

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While tentpole products like its Special Ops Backpack and Weekender Bag are still the brand’s biggest draws, KILLSPENCER has curiously been branching out into the sporting arena, creating a hip alternative to the Spaldings and Wilsons of the world. It makes perfect sense, actually, for a shop that specializes in leather to make basketballs, footballs, and punching bags.  After all, why shouldn’t these things be designed with as much handcraft and aesthetic nuance as wallets and briefcases? Just last month, NBA great Baron Davis stopped by to pick up as many KILLSPENCER basketballs as he could carry (which was quite a few).

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Nikosey is always buzzing with new ideas. KILLSPENCER, for him, isn’t just a lifestyle brand, but a living brand—continuously evolving and elaborating. In August, he collaborated with the much-hyped New York fashion label Public School on a selection of limited-edition bags. And most recently, he opened a month-long pop-up store in West L.A. showcasing local artists, designers, and even filmmakers. In fact one of the nights, he hosted a screening of short films, including Rose McGowan’s Oscar-tipped directorial debut, Dawn.

Killspencer 5What does this have to do with bags? Everything.