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LEATHER STILL HIS BAG
Tucson Citizen ~ Lorrie Cohen

 

Toyo Gilman's Dark Star Leather is flourishing and he credits his late partner.

About half of Dark Star Leather is filled with leather vests and jackets that Gilman purchased for his previous store. The other section is lined with items such as handmade sandals, (back in style), purses, wallets, binders and date books. The custom-made items are created by Gilman and his staff in a 400 square foot workplace in the back of the store.



Most of the leather Gilman uses for his custom work comes from Italy, France and the United States.

He uses ostrich, alligator and lizard skins for overlay and inlay work.

Gilman also displays purses and silver belt buckles that other local and regional artists have created.

Although Gilman's focus has changed over the years, many of the clients have remained the same.

"Most are locals who were the hippies in the '60s," he said. "Now they've grown up. Many have climbed the corporate ladder and can afford more."

Tucsonans account for about 65 percent of his customer base and tourists about 35 percent. It's not uncommon for celebrities such as Robin Williams, Linda Ronstadt and Wynonna or Naomi Judd to visit his store.

His only regret is that Richard Leece, his late friend and co-founder, is not around to enjoy their dream.

 

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