Fred Peritore says he's always been the working-with-his-hands type of guy – and so his craft of choice makes a lot of sense.
Peritore is a professional leatherworker who works out of his home studio in East Setauket, creating belts, motorcycle seats, wallets, hats, and more as the founder and owner of Mitch King Leathers.
He said he was inspired to learn the craft after watching a Discovery Channel show featuring Paul Cox, a high-profile leatherworker based in Brooklyn. A family friend gave Peritore a sentimental and valuable supply of tools. Peritore started by creating a seat for his own motorcycle, then gradually started branching out. He has been working with leather for about seven years, and has taken it to a professional level over the past two years.
"Before you know it, I was doing stuff for all my friends ... and kind of just recently started to come around and really step the game up a lot," he said.
Peritore has done some high-profile work of his own. He has done work for Jack Fiorvante of Deadwood Choppers, creating the seat for a motorcycle Fiorvante built for the Rock Legends Cruise, a charity event that benefited the Native American Heritage Association. In 2011, Peritore created a custom leather hat for Southern rock star Gig Michaels of the band Swamp Da Wamp after the rocker's previous favorite hat went missing while on tour. Michaels posted a Facebook message to try and find it – and instead of locating the missing hat, a mutual contact led him to Mitch King Leathers.
Michaels called his hat "the best and most unique" hat he has ever owned. He is known to wear it to all performances and said it's become his part of signature look.
"People are simply wowed when they examine the detail in the craftsmanship," Michaels said.
Peritore says he is his own worst critic, always pushing himself to do what he feels is "out of my safe zone." But the results are starting to show.
"As the quality of my work has progressed, it has been very gratifying to see people comparing my work to that of some of my favorite leather workers," he said.
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