full-length lambskin coat or hip-length jacket to a crocodile
bulls-neck boots, you'll find fine leather throughout the
Whether planning a large or small purchase, expect to pay
30% to 50% less than you
items currently are copies of Versace jackets for men, belted
women, laptop briefcases, NFL team jackets and of course,
boots. Top-quality wallets
and passport cases, in calf or lambskin, are perennial sellers
at $10 to $18.
on all-leather team jackets vary by type of leather, size,
style and complexity
of design, but generally run $200 to $320 vs. $1,200 for the
same jacket in Vegas
and $1,000 in catalogs. Bargain hard for these. The starting
price can easily drop
$100. Regular men's and women's lambskin jackets, which would
retail for about
$400 stateside, run as low as $120.
and suede jackets run between $30 and $60, depending on size
skin. Great bargains are toddler and children's suede vests,
lined with sheepskin and
sold for about $10.
are exceptional buys, in every skin from alligator to ostrich,
and are generally
about half of stateside prices. Most popular are bulls-neck,
at a savings of about $40
a pair, and lizard and snakeskin at significantly more. At
the top of the line, ostrich
boots, in every conceivable color, run $250 vs. $500 stateside.
the border area you'll also find an almost overwhelming array
purses, backpacks, wallets, tooled belts, camera and video
cases, briefcases and
luggage in a variety of colors, skins and styles.
good buys are the 30-inch, all-leather airline carry-on bags,
everywhere, in every hue. They sell for an average of $20
but can be found for as
little as $12 in patchwork colors. Check to make sure they
are double-stitched and
have sturdy zippers.
Patchwork is always the best leather bargain because it uses
the small, leftover
pieces from other items. A well-made patchwork fanny pack
might run $5; a backpack
$12. A highly styled woman's jacket that looks like a jeweled
mosaic of suedes and
leathers would be fairly priced at around $60. The selection
is enormous everywhere.
City to Shop
Tijuana is the leather capital of Mexico. The selection is
vast, the competition fierce
and bargaining is great. Cruise Avenida Revolucion in Tijuana
and Boulevard Lopez
Mateos in Ensenada for the best variety in all-leather items
and boots. Skip Rosarito
for leather, except for smaller items - such as video-camera
cases, backpacks, fanny
packs and purses - found in the mercado and curio shops. The
mercado is your best
bet in Rosarito because of its concentrated comparative-shopping
area and its
friendly and easy bargaining atmosphere.
Shops in Tijuana
Sasson Leather Factory is boot-freak heaven, with so many
styles, colors and skins
that indecisive types might have an anxiety attack. Ask owner
anything about leather. She's funny, fair and knowledgeable.
Along with a wide
variety of men's and women's jackets, Sasson will also copy
any leather jacket ($200
vs. $1,300 stateside), will custom-design jackets and boots
and will ship, insured.
The workmanship is top-quality, and no illegal skins are sold.
Located on the east
side of the street, three doors from the corner of Avenida
Revolucion and Third.
The Leather Factory in the Pasaje Revolucion arcade is team-jacket
along with having a terrific selection of regular leather
jackets in all styles. Jackets
can be made to order here in four hours. Ask gregarious owner
Pepe Ortiz to do his
famous lighter or nitric-acid tricks to distinguish real leather
from vinyl or 14-karat
gold from fake. Located midblock on Avenida Revolucion, between
Third and Fourth
on the east side of the street.
Curios has an excellent selection of purses and briefcases,
along with a
bit of everything else. Prices on laptop briefcases vary by
the number of
compartments, size, type of skin and workmanship, but a typical
calfskin case with
multiple pockets runs about half the price as in the United
States. Other calfskin and
young bullskin briefcases run $50 to $100 and generally represent
a 45% savings.
Ask for Enrique. Hernando's is the first shop on the left
at the foot of the stairs in
underground Pasaje Gomez arcade. The arcade is on the east
side of Avenida
Revolucion between Third and Fourth. The shop's sign says
Best Shops in Ensenada
Plaza Bucareli is the place to go for Ensenada's best comparative
with a half-dozen specialty stores all in one mini-arcade.
From hundreds of leather
hats to shoes, purses, boots and even saddles, the selection
and bargaining are
great here. Located at Avenida Lopez Mateos and Macheros,
next to the Leather
Leather Shop has the most extensive variety of wearable leather
from jackets and pants to team jackets, hats, belts and even
chaps. Prices are fair
here; team jackets, for example, start at $165. In addition
to the usual multicolor
team jackets, Maribel's also carries a classier version in
suede. While you're here, check out the fascinating collection
of knives, sabers and
other strange, James Bond-type instruments in Maribel's front
window. Located at
Avenidas Lopez Mateos and Macheros, next to the Leather House
in Plaza Bucareli.
Call 011-52- 617-81055.
Leather House, a landmark for navigation on Avenida Lopez
Mateos, is a
must-stop for any Ensenada shopper. While the store no longer
leather items, owner Rocio Guerra is the straightest shooter
in town and will
generously take time to tell you all the insider secrets of
the city, from the best
places to shop for any kind of merchandise to the best place
to find a clean
bathroom. The shop now carries the biggest selection of quality
along with 5,000 T-shirts. Even if you're not in the market
for either, stop for an
information fix from this delightful woman. The Leather House
is the prominent white
building on the corner of Avenidas Lopez Mateos and Macheros.
Leather Shop, which looks like a hole in the wall from the
street, is actually
purse paradise, with one of the largest selections in the
entire border area. Besides
all the usual leather items, the shop also carries riding
gear, a wide variety of
holsters and rifle cases, great leather caps and Stetsons,
and a lot more. Bargain
hard here, and totally ignore the owner's high-pressure pushiness.
Avenidas Lopez Mateos and Macheros, across from the Leather
in Mexico will vary with fluctuations in the peso. All prices
on bargainable items
quoted above are after bargaining. The law of supply and demand
does apply in the
border area. As tourists' tastes change, inventory will vary
at shops that cross-sell or
feature items from different categories. Specialty or one-of-a-kind
above may not always be available.