Hello everyone, and welcome to another of my reviews. In this article, I’ll be reviewing a pair of straps from local strap label Yi Leather.
I previously reviewed a pair of straps from Yi Leather back in 2019. Since then, the brand has experimented with several new materials, including intriguing coconut and beaver tail straps. Yi Leather kindly sent both for me to review – let’s see if they are any good.
Yi Leather Watch Straps – Video Review
For those interested in seeing some hands-on footage of the straps, do check out my Youtube review of Yi Leather’s straps below:
Sourced from a startup in Kerala, India named Malai, the coconut watch strap is billed as an eco-friendly material that’s a sustainable alternative to traditional leather straps (which are derived from animal hides).
Discarded coconut water is cultured to create cellulose, which is then processed by adding plant-based fibres from hemp, sisal and banana fibres. This creates a unique texture that resembles the coconut husk and adds to its durability. Furthermore, the strap is made water resistant by applying a mixture of natural oil and air which are dried to resemble leather properties.
I quite like the texture of the coconut watch strap – it’s eminently unique. I suppose the closest comparison would be suede leather, but it’s still rather different. As someone who has owned his fair share of leather watch straps, the striking aesthetic of the coconut watch strap is a breath of fresh air.
The coconut leather strap is currently only available on a vintage-esque beige side stitching. I personally think it fits the vibe of the strap well – the side stitching adds a rustic touch to the already retro-looking strap.
The back of the strap is lined with goat leather, which is softer yet also more durable than regular cowhide. For those looking for an animal-free product, Yi Leather also offers the option of having the strap lined with alcantara leather (which is a synthetic material commonly used in the automotive industry).
On the wrist, the goat leather lining is comfortable and feels premium to the touch. No complaints here.
Being a bespoke leathercrafter, Yi Leather allows for plenty of customisation on the coconut watch strap. Customers can choose from a range of lug widths, as well as a variety of strap lengths (which accommodate 5.6 to 8-inch wrists) to achieve a better fit.
The coconut leather strap is available in a myriad of colourways – Red, Khaki Green, and the above-pictured Dark Indigo. My pick of the lot would be Dark Indigo. Not only is it the most versatile stylistically, but it’s also the colourway where the unique texture of the coconut husk is most prominent. I paired it with my personal Ming 17.09, and I think it complements the watch perfectly.
All in all, Yi Leather’s coconut watch strap is a great eco-friendly offering that’s suitable for those searching for animal-free products. Sustainable products have been all the rage lately, but that has rarely crossed over to the leather-dominated strap-making industry – until now. At S$115, it’s also rather affordable for a handmade strap.
Yi Leather’s latest range is the beaver tail, which has been sustainably sourced and tanned in USA.
An uncommon material in strapmaking, beaver tail is an exotic material that possesses an iconic “pop” texture – no two straps will be identical, even if crafted from the same hide.
I personally really loved the rich (yet smooth) texture of the beaver tail strap. It really pops on the wrist, and reminds me of other exotic patterns such as Tiger’s Eye or even a leopard print. I also love that it’s rare, and find it a refreshing alternative to the usual crocodile/alligator straps.
Like the coconut strap, I chose the beaver tail strap to also be lined with goat leather. This once again means that the strap is soft and flexible, and immensely comfortable on the wrist – no break-in period required.
Currently, Yi Leather offers the beaver tail strap with either side-stitching (as seen above) or full stitching. I personally prefer the look of the side-stitched strap – it adds a vintage charm that complements the rustic look of the beaver tail strap. It’s also $20 cheaper, which isn’t an insignificant amount.
Overall, I absolutely love the beaver tail strap. It’s a unique material that’s rarely seen in the local market, and pairs fantastically with vintage-inspired watches (such as the Gane Type C). And like the coconut strap, aspects such as strap width and length are all customisable. At $188, it’s also pretty affordable for a handcrafted exotic strap.
Conclusion – so Yi Leather straps “shiok” or not?
What I love most about Yi Leather is the brand’s commitment to offering uncommon materials to the local market. In my previous review, I reviewed a blue sharkskin strap and it still remains one of my favourite straps that I own. In a similar vein, I appreciate the distinctive nature of both the coconut and beaver tail straps. The former is a unique eco-friendly option that’s ideal for those living a sustainable lifestyle, while the latter is great for those that love exotic straps but want something different. As the icing on the cake, both straps are well-crafted without breaking the bank – what’s not to like?
Those interested in purchasing the straps can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all products from Yi Leather’s web-store. After the discount, the coconut strap would cost just $103.50, while the Beaver Tail strap would be a mere $169. I can’t wait to see what other unique materials Yi Leather has to offer in the future – perhaps a cork strap?
View Yi Leather’s full range of offerings here.
P.S: Check out The Shiok Store here – it serves as a curation of my favourite products from my favourite brands.
P.P.S: Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.P.P.P.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.