Luxury Accessories International (LAI) began as a leather importer in New York. Founded in 1953 by Joseph Distenfeld (under the name Disbrok, Inc.) the company imported crocodile skins from South America and sold them to makers of shoes, handbags, and other leather goods. In 1971 his son Fred joined the business and expanded the range of skins to include python from Indonesia, ostrich from South Africa, and lizard from South America. Disbrok quietly became a leader in the buying, tanning, importing, exporting, and cutting exotic skins, providing some of the most exclusive designers with their leathers, and also manufacturing belts for top fashion houses.
By 1999 many American manufacturers of luxury goods had moved their production to lower cost off-shore factories. Distenfeld recognized an opportunity: as his competitors and customers shut down their U.S. operations, he reached out to their top artisans and hired them to create his own line of luxury goods. Nine years later, Distenfeld is still committed to his philosophy of "an American company producing the finest luxury products in the U.S."
Each piece is organically designed and engineered. This holds true for every design executed in every skin, whether made in alligator, crocodile, ostrich, or python. "There are no short cuts with our skins" Distenfeld continues. Custom dyed all over the world-from Italy to Singapore-every skin is selected by hand for cutting at the LAI manufacturing house in Long Island City.
Orders are individually cut and sewn, and often customized, but the LAI boutique at 35 East 65th Street, offers truly custom pieces.