If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

A sentiment that runs through the blood of Rawhide Custom, a venture in leather born in the back streets of Liverpool by Max McDonough. Nestled in MAKE, down at The North Docks, Rawhide Custom has a desire to create products which you will be as happy using every day as they are making it. There is a genuine love of all things authentic, creative, original and well-made that propels this business. Working with the best quality leather available and crafting where the only piece of machinery involved, is the camera used to photograph the final product. A place where it is not about making the most products, but is about making the best products.

Say hello to Rawhide Custom – one of the many keeping the art of British craft alive.


How did it come about?

It started when one of my best mates Jack and I were living together a few years back. He’d bought a piece of leather to make a glasses case and very quickly people started suggesting other items they were looking for but hadn’t been able to find anywhere. We began teaching ourselves the craft, ordered materials from the most reputable British suppliers around and went to work creating some products of our own to show off online and at various craft fairs around the city. In so many cases, the materials speak for themselves. I’ve always firmly believed that keeping my work close to home, and sourcing premium materials from like-minded suppliers within England is the greatest recipe for a durable product. 


Where did the name come from?

While living on Lark Lane there was an old brass plaque above the door from when the building had previously been used as office space. The plaque was etched with ‘Rawhide Comedy’ and the name seemed to lend itself to the new venture, so it was adapted to show the custom-design nature of the new leather business. Along with this, I was fascinated by old Western movies and remember watching a programme called Rawhide on TV as a boy. This link to the Frontiersmen of the wild west and the kit they would carry on their travels is something that endures in our products as all our designs are named after the trusty steeds of famous cowboys through history.

When did your love for leather start?

In my mind leather has always been the material of choice for a quality piece of clothing/accessory. I can picture the leather wallet my uncle carried in his back pocket which had served him well for over 15 years, and I was completely taken in by the idea of something becoming such an enduring feature of a persons everyday essential kit. This idea is something I strive to replicate in everything that leaves the workshop, and the thought of Rawhide Custom goods becoming a faithful companion to our customers for years to come is one that gives me great satisfaction.


Where do you make them?

Rawhide Custom is a one man operation and I make all of the leather goods to order here in Liverpool, which not only allows much greater attention to detail in every piece, but also removes the need for a warehouse or large premises. The workshop is my sanctuary filled with rolled up hides, a large work bench, my tools in pride of place, and usually a Beatles album playing in the background.

What has it been like running your own business so far?

I was born and raised in Liverpool, and the process of meeting up with local businesses who I visit as a customer, working together to produce a custom design, and finally delivering their finished goods is a fantastic experience.


What is next for you?

There’s a new item about to be added to the website – a gent’s belt. To give you an idea of the efforts involved in sourcing materials, this design has been 9 months in the making. Countless materials were sampled but just didn’t cut it. The end result however will speak for itself; thick strips of British vegetable-tanned leather, made in England at one of the few remaining tanneries to work their hides by hand. A solid brass buckle and key hook which were both produced by hand in a small English foundry which holds a Royal Warrant to the Queen for metal work. Then finally, solid brass hardware which will never rust, ensuring countless years of use. All of these will be worked entirely by hand right here in Liverpool which gives a great sense of confidence and pride.

Check out some of Max’s work on his shop here. If there’s something more specific you’d like you can also contact him through the website.