As Eagle heads into our 30th year of business, we're trying to take an active time out to reflect on our growth and achievements in the last 12 months.

Wrap Up: Eagle Leather's 2023

by Eagle Leather
Feb 01, 2024
Tags #Eagle Leather #Leather #Rubber #LGBTQIA+ #History #community
As Eagle heads into our 30th year of business, we're trying to take an active time out to reflect on our growth and achievements in the last 12 months.

When you work in an environment that's as crazy, dynamic and fast moving as our store, it can be hard to take time out to reflect on your achievements throughout the year because it can be so easy to think "right - smashed that - what's next?!"

But as we head into our 30th year of business, we're trying to take an active time out to reflect on our growth and achievements in the last 12 months, as we continue to solidify our place as one of Melbourne's most iconic and historical BDSM and LGBTQIA+ institutions, spreading positivity and generating community wherever we tread.

Aside from our epic community donations and sponsorships last year totalling $27,256.36, we dipped our fingers into as many pies as possible and started a bunch of new projects.

We're proud as punch of our YouTube Channel, season one of which was released last year with 22 bumper episodes covering topics like leather and latex care, ball stretching, what to do if you lose something up your butt, how to shine your shoes, and interviews with key figures in our community to get to know them a little better! The response to our channel has been quite overwhelming, and we've amassed over 1000 subscribers in under 4 months, and over 2500 hours of watch time! We're working away at Season 2 now, so make sure you like and subscribe if you haven't already, and watch this space!

Some winners of Eagle Leather cheques in 2023.

Our Eagle Leather TikTok continued to excite with our fabulous assistant co-manager Jay and marketing manager Jono cooking up new hilarious content weekly! We've loved navigating this new platform and generating different content for our different audiences, and giving you a look into life behind the scenes at Eagle Leather, which is always full of unexpected moments, big personalities, crazy events, and lots of joy, laughter, openness and sexual positivity!

Our commitment to the world of rubber and Melbourne Rubber as an organisation continued as we sent our representative Melbourne Rubberman 2022 Sergio to Chicago to compete at Mr International Rubber (MIR) in November, with return flights paid for by us. Sergio was an absolute joy to watch on stage, represented our community so beautifully, and had such a fun time in his month-long immersive trip. You can read about his experiences in our post-MIR interview with him on our blog.

The three contestants at MRM 23, look its Joel!Last year also saw our assistant co-manager Joel compete at and win the Melbourne Rubberman title! He was so magnetic on stage in his incredible fantasy round opera performance, and we are so proud of him (and all of the other amazing contestants) for this win amidst an extremely tightly fought contest! Later this year he'll also compete at MIR in Chicago with return flights from us, and we can't wait to support him! Joel is an incredibly hard working member of our team who has really proved himself indispensable to us these last 12 months, both on the shop floor and with his technological and website know-how, drive, and relentless ambition and positivity - we're so proud of his development and insane level of hard work!

Jay was also lucky enough to make his first ever pilgrimage to the US last year where he got to attend Dore Alley, bare all in Palm Springs, visit the Castro, and walk in the footsteps of his idol Harvey Milk. During his trip, he made it to LA and visited Oxballs HQ where he was able to see how their world-leading silicone toys are made and bring back heaps of education and knowledge for our team and customer base. Back on home soil, Jay worked with our friends at VicBears to come up with and produce the new "Caring Bears", a concept to welcome, chat and engage with new members of the bear community all over The Laird at various VicBears events. Jay's friendly face behind the counter and incredible customer service are second to none, it's just as likely you'll walk in and see him in the shop hugging a customer as it is that he'll be crying with another one or telling another about how he guessed their star sign and what it means for their future life and relationships, and for sure he'll find a way to reference Madonna in there somewhere. He truly is one in a million and we're so blessed to have him on the team!

The full year!As our now longest-serving team member, marketing manager Jono had another stellar year with us creating so many iconic graphics and crafting our much loved weekly newsletters. It's a large thanks to Jono that Eagle Leather always stays fresh and modern as he constantly pushes the envelope with his extensive creativity. As well as publishing and planning all of our TikToks and socials each week, Jono curates our coveted Photo of the Week spot on our newsletter and twitter page. ICYMI, you can see all of his previous selections through the hashtag #elpotw, it is such a fun review of the community's looks throughout the year! It's a huge honour of ours to have such an icon of the Melbourne party community form part of the backbone that makes Eagle Leather!

Another team member who had an amazing year of development was Sebastian, who was promoted to head of production after less than 12 months on our team! He's just gone from strength to strength since joining our team, overhauling our systems in our studio and streamlining our manufacturing processes. He's also been learning about working with new materials like rubber, and this culminated in him putting on his first Rubber Repair class during Slick 2023, with two Mr International Rubber winners attending - no pressure or anything! The feedback from the class was excellent and we can't wait to see what Seb does with his year ahead holding down the fort for our flagship leather label.

It was a sad day in June when Hanna hung up the scissors for the last time! After many years working for our brand, Hanna decided it was time to have a baby, and then move onto a new career in psychology! Hanna was instrumental in developing our leather label, creating many of the high end pieces that our customers adore, including many of our harnesses, hoods and muzzles plus iconic high end pieces like the Western Shirt and Sailor Pants. We wish her all the best with her future endeavours.

Shh, its a good toy secret!We also farewelled our incredible Austrian bear Patrick! Patrick arrived on our team with a bang in 2022, creating our now-iconic "Sunday Funday" full of bubbly, mimosas, life advice and plenty of personality! After a very busy year juggling multiple careers as a barber and an eaglet, Patrick was able to develop his idea of creating his own barber shop from idea through to execution so it was time to put all of his energy into that life plan. Patrick is still going to be around for a rock star shift from time to time though, and he still promises to get an Eagle Leather QR code tattooed on his ass one day!

After joining the gang in 2022, Benny decided 2023 was his year to sow his wild oats and moved to Germany on a whim! We missed his sassy personality while he was gone, and we were so glad to see him decide to come home last month! He's settling back in to his old job at The Laird and he stops by to say hey to the old crew here from time to time. Welcome home Benny!

Benny's best friend Haydan joined the team to fill the void when he left, and she's been such an amazing addition to our team! Haydan (he/she/them/they) is a rubbery, kinky, non-binary Melbourne misfit, and she is the perfect addition to our team! So much seems to be in this talented team members' wheelhouse, from attention to detail, amazing merchandising, can do attitude and commitment to community - it's been a bumper year for our latest eaglet!

All the gang at Sexpo!Once again, we put together a kinky and queer extravaganza of a fashion parade at Sexpo, entirely managed by Haydan. The amazing lineup they put together included some of Melbourne's kink royalty including Kitty Obsidian, Alexander McKween, Mark Binette, Seraph, Rubber Scum and Zaftig, with a soundtrack crafted for us by DJ Lovehandles. We're so proud of Haydan for putting this incredible show together and managing it all, while still learning the ropes of their role here in store!

In some great news for Eagle Leather, we were absolutely over the moon in June to find out that 80 Hoddle Street was removed from sale after 12 months on the market. We are so happy we get to stay in our iconic home full of so much history and journeys both on the walls and inside the space.

Our head honcho BJ continued his great work on the City of Yarra LGBTQIA+ advisory committee. Last year (along with other members) he continued campaigning for the City of Yarra to consider identifying some LGBTQIA+ and fetish businesses in the area as being cultural sites of significance due to the area's unique identity. Great progress was made last year when the City of Yarra opened up their LGBTQIA+ Sites of Significance study. This work is informed by Yarra's LGBTQIA+ Strategy 2021-2024, State Government research, their partnership with Queer-ways Melbourne and community outreach delivered by their Council officers.

The Eagle Leather wall.

Here were some of the contributions our amazing community made to the study:

"Eagle Leather is a staple of gay culture in Melbourne. Walking through the doors you find a celebration of sexuality is all its flavours. Since its origins in the 1990s, this location has been a right of passage for gay and bisexual men who first come to Melbourne. As a socially-conscious business Eagle Leather supported events are also part of the cultural vibrancy of the area." - Jarryd

"Eagle Leather is a shining example of a 'pillar of the community' - not just a highly regarded store, but a resource centre, a hub for education, a safe space to learn the art and skills of exploration and sexuality. If I could choose one venue out of all that deserves this kind of special recognition, it is Eagle!" - Nicky L

"Eagle Leather was one of the first exposures I had to the queer kink community and they were and still are so supportive of everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community. Their efforts for inclusion are above and beyond many other places and they deserve to be honoured and remembered in their iconic building and location." - Zang

"Eagle Leather is a valued and important institution to both the Naarm/Melbourne, and wider Australian LGBTQIA+ and Fetish Communities. Eagle Leather has upheld and support these communities endlessly, and contribute an overwhelming amount to our spaces. It is important that these places are saved from gentrification as they provide the underlying framework for how we function. Our communities will campaign tirelessly and with no end in sight until spaces like Eagle Leather are protected." - Matt

"Eagle Leather is a significant site of importance to the LGBTAIQ community. Eagle has been an important [place] for not only encouraging the LGBTIAQ community to explore and celebrate their sexuality, but to so in a way that advocates for a more inclusive community that celebrates diversity, in a way that other LGBTIAQ spaces sometimes fail to do." - Andrew

All in all, Eagle Leather received 80+ submissions of support that were made public, and we are also aware of some submissions that were not approved for public viewing due to certain kink related topics and content being used ;) but luckily, even entries that were not published will still be submitted to the heritage consultant. This work is still being continued, and we will keep updating you as to the outcome of this study once more is available to the public.

That just about wraps up another epic year for Eagle Leather! Thank you so much for supporting us and allowing us to do the job we love day in day out - we couldn't do any of this without you, our fabulous community, supporting and cheering us on every step of the way.

Here's to another exciting and crazy year ahead in 2024!

Some of the Eagle Leather team @ The Laird.

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