Martin Dingman’s Studio (and a Giveaway)

I recently traveled to Branson, MO in the heart of the Ozarks to visit Martin Dingman.  Martin has been in the leather business for almost 30 years, and in that time – he has honed his craft beyond the expert level.  To say that Martin is an artist would be an understatement.  With leather as his medium, he constantly develops high-quality men’s accessories that stand up to the elements for many years.  Not only that, he is a really cool guy.

One of the first stories he told me was about a State Senator visiting a Men’s Store (one that carries Martin’s goods).  The Senator was in the store speaking to the salesperson, and said ‘I need a new belt’ and unbuckling/pulling his belt off, he continued ‘just like this one’.  The salesperson looked at the label, and it was a 15+ year old Martin Dingman belt.  15 years.

Headquartered in the Ozarks, Martin Dingman has a studio in Branson, and a workshop in Northern Arkansas.  In addition to spending time with Martin and his son Grayson, we visited both locations, where I got to see all the workings of the Martin Dingman company.  You’ll see more on the trip in later posts, but let’s start in Martin’s studio.  It’s in an unassuming building with an excellent view.  As soon as we opened the front door, I was consumed by the aroma of leather.  It’s his business, and it’s everywhere.

Set up like a true studio, there are multiple large wooden tables surrounded by stools with leather samples, buckles, shoes, tools, catalogs, pictures, and notes everywhere.  It’s a very controlled chaos.  In true artist-fashion, Martin knows exactly what he is doing.  He had just returned from a trip to Brazil, and his mind was racing with new ideas for upcoming seasons.

Belt ideas

Exotics and Prints


From Brazil

“Instead of a bit in a loafer, how about a knot?”

Leather bags (in development)

Also in the studio are his current line of footwear.  The line is extremely nice – very high quality footwear made from a variety of leathers – anything from alligator to printed calfskin to wool tartan.  It’s all there.  What struck me is that the majority of the shoe line isn’t made to look ‘new’ for the shoe’s life – it’s made to age, which will give it a materially different look.  Here are some views:

The current Spring line (and a few others)

Yep.  Exactly what you think it is.

Some suedes – check out the chocolate longwings…

Natural leather loafers with a natural finished sole


There is inspirational material everywhere.  The images and words surround you in the studio; it’s a complete feel:

Towards the end of the Studio visit, Martin showed me the ‘back room’, which had shelves of old shoe samples.  Some of them had made the cut from previous lines, but some hadn’t:

These two immediately caught my eye.  They are both waxed suede, and look like a million bucks.  Hopefully (after my incessant pleading) we’ll see something similar in the future:

Martin was nice enough to give us some insight into his company.  Here is the first installment…more to come:

Describe the Martin Dingman company We are a family of people who really care about our customers! As you saw when you were here, several of our employees have been here 10-15-20 years! There is little if no bickering, NO CORPORATE POLITICS, we all care for and cover for each other when necessary. At the end of the day we endeavor to make the finest product and take the best care of our customers. Decisions are not based on what is popular, what is easiest, or what is the least expensive. We make decisions based on the old fashion belief of just doing the right thing.

Who is the Martin Dingman customer? Although there are exceptions, the Martin Dingman consumer is 35-55 years old. We believe they are getting younger, as we are beginning to do a better job of making the ‘just out of college’ guys aware of the brand. The MD consumer has a much higher than average taste level. He loves tradition but aspires to push the envelope in his wardrobe. He is college educated, enjoys hunting, works out more than an average guy and is a professional. The MD consumer is not trendy, and he INSISTS on great quality.

From where do you draw inspiration? Who knows??? Back in the 1980’s I was on a train going from NYC to my home in CT, when I had to pull out my wallet to pay the conductor. When I handed him the cash, the picture of George Washington immediately hit me as a perfect image for our silk brace collection! That design was one of the best selling of all time! Inspiration is everywhere, wall paper, upholstery, old tack, brass door plates in Florence and even old ironwork for our buckle designs! In the end I must always give credit to God for my natural artistic ability, there is not another reasonable explanation.

#qualitymatters is a staple in your Tweets. What does ‘#qualitymatters’ mean to you? It means that no matter how I design it, no matter how well our sales reps sell it, no matter how well we ship it, no matter how well our Customer Care ladies service it, if the quality is not there, nothing else matters! Therefore. . . #qualitymatters

Who are your style icons? Why? That is a difficult question. I am sure the typical answers are Ralph Lauren, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, etc. Although those gentlemen dressed well, I generally do not consider those either who dress for a living, or who are in the business. This is because they get paid to dress well, or someone else dresses them.  I consider men like the Duke of Windsor, who had his own personal sense of style, without being over board. Oddly enough, my father and grandfather made a tremendous impact on me as neither earned a lot of money in their lives, but both had a style about them that was obvious. Their style was not only about their felt hat, bow tie, work boots, or pocket knife; it also was reflected in their vocabulary, their interaction with family and their view of life.

How has style changed in the last 25 years? As always, it is repeating itself with new versions of the classics. I do not think genuine style (as opposed to fashion) never really changes. Has a houndstooth sport coat or navy blazer ever gone out of style??? How about a great cashmere cardigan? Not in my lifetime! The fringes change, and this time it’s about bow ties and wingtips, both a part of the very marrow of genuine classic style! So I guess to answer your question, thanks to the younger consumer, the real deal is back! Hallelujah! To use your term, there seems to be an “awakening”.

If you had to pick one – what is the ‘Perfect Shoe’? To me, a perfect shoe has to do with versatility. Today I believe a perfect shoe is one I can wear with jeans, a sport coat, or a suit. With those parameters, a double monk, a great cap toe, or a wingtip works. For me though, it’s the long wing!

What is playing on your iPod? I am so busy in and out of airports, answering questions with tannery technicians, our workshop manager, or marketing coordinator, I have no time to keep the ear buds in! However on my Mac, and among many (I’m a music freak) are: Johnny Cash, Vivaldi, Ten Years After, Shawn McDonald and Third Day.

Who is going to make it to the Final Four? It has been a fun and crazy year in D-1 basketball! Of course it is difficult to rule out the power house teams like Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Syracuse. However, this has been the year of the upset! I am picking Kansas, Syracuse, Wichita State and Missouri… Creighton hopefully of course!


I didn’t leave empty handed – Martin provided 20 of his hand-made card holders that we are going to give away to Red Clay Soul readers.  These are extremely nice – you won’t be disappointed.  Here are the rules:

~ Leave a comment to this post with your email address
+1 (2 total) entry for ‘Liking’ Martin Dingman’s Facebook page
+1 (3 total) for ‘Liking’ Red Clay Soul’s Facebook page
+1 (4 total) for following Martin Dingman on Twitter
+1 (5 total) for following Red Clay Soul on Twitter
+1 (6 total) for blogging about the giveaway

The winners will be picked via next on Tuesday, March 6th.  Good luck!

Special thanks to Martin Dingman for sending along the card holders for the giveaway.



  1. Elena V
    02/27/2012 / 8:19 AM

    It was interesting to hear Martin say the modern shoe has to be versatile, considering how many different varieties there are in stores now and how easy it is to find the right pair for the outfit in question- but also, how hard! So many factors to consider. So at the end of the day, I agree, better play it safe with this one model that will brighten, or blend in with, any clothes.

  2. Elena V
    02/27/2012 / 8:19 AM

    Liked Martin Dingman on Facebook

  3. Elena V
    02/27/2012 / 8:20 AM

    Liked Red Clay Souls on Facebook

  4. Elena V
    02/27/2012 / 8:21 AM

    I follow Martin Dingman on Twitter as LifesDeepColors

  5. 02/27/2012 / 8:21 AM

    I would love to use one of those cases for business cards. Great story

  6. Drake
    02/27/2012 / 8:24 AM

    I would love to use one of those cases for business cards. Great story

  7. Pavel
    02/27/2012 / 8:29 AM

    Love your giveaways!

  8. 02/27/2012 / 8:31 AM

    Great Post. I like Martin Dingman on Facebook.

  9. 02/27/2012 / 8:31 AM

    I like Red Clay Soul on Facebook

  10. 02/27/2012 / 8:32 AM

    I follow Martin Dingman on twitter

  11. 02/27/2012 / 8:32 AM

    and I follow Red Clay Soul on twitter

  12. Zachary Ferguson
    02/27/2012 / 8:33 AM

    These look incredible!

  13. Nick Valinsky
    02/27/2012 / 8:39 AM

    “if the quality is not there nothing else matters”. It was so great to read that phrase. It is clear Martin Dingman puts his heart and soul into each design. Another great piece by RCS!

  14. Alex Johns
    02/27/2012 / 8:54 AM

    Looks like a time well spent.

  15. Matt
    02/27/2012 / 9:14 AM

    Great post and contest.

  16. Paul Miller
    02/27/2012 / 9:24 AM

    Great card holder. I was just looking for an upgrade, so this would be great timing.

  17. Nathan Propst
    02/27/2012 / 9:24 AM

    Count me in.

  18. Erik
    02/27/2012 / 9:46 AM

    I love the Martin Dingman dress belts.

  19. Conan
    02/27/2012 / 9:57 AM


  20. Mark McCoy
    02/27/2012 / 10:01 AM

    Great review of a wonderful company. Great shoes!

  21. Laura P
    02/27/2012 / 10:26 AM

    Great giveaway and great profile on the company – going to have to check out their travel bags ASAP. Email:

  22. Todd Bray
    02/27/2012 / 12:01 PM

    Thanks for the article on Martin Dingman. I was not familiar with his products and grateful that you shared his product line as well as his story.


  23. Will Midkiff
    02/27/2012 / 12:10 PM

    Beautiful craftmanship!

  24. David Wallace
    02/27/2012 / 12:40 PM

    Fantastic new brand! Always leave it to RCS to provide quality suggestions!

  25. Jordan
    02/27/2012 / 1:29 PM

    Now those are some beautiful leather goods. More than happy to “like” Martin Dingman.

  26. 02/27/2012 / 1:38 PM

    Well played sir! Martin make’s wonderful pieces!

    Here’s to hopefully getting a new cardholder!

    Liked Martin on FB, and been a fan of RCS for a long time!

  27. Austin Holmes
    02/27/2012 / 1:44 PM

    This would make a great birthday gift!

    followed both on Facebook, and liked both on Twitter!

  28. Josh Haber
    02/27/2012 / 3:10 PM

    These are awesome.

  29. 02/27/2012 / 4:02 PM

    And obviously I follow you on Twitter and like RCS on Facebook!

  30. Taylor
    02/27/2012 / 5:43 PM

    Those card holders look superb. I’ve liked MD and RCS on facebook and have begun following them on twitter as well.

  31. 02/27/2012 / 7:21 PM

    Beautiful goods. I’ve been helping a friend who wants to get into the leather making game and it makes me respect the skill and craftsmanship it takes to make things like this.

  32. 02/27/2012 / 7:22 PM

    Also I liked Martin on FB and follow RCS on twitter.

  33. Tim Fabian
    02/27/2012 / 7:54 PM

    Great giveaway. Would love to have one of these for my cards.

  34. Ben Calvert
    02/27/2012 / 8:21 PM

    Love the card holders! Would love to have one!

  35. Preston Mortemore
    02/27/2012 / 8:25 PM

    Those are some amazing pieces. Liked both on facebook and followed both on twitter.

  36. Michael J Kilkenny
    02/27/2012 / 8:27 PM

    My kind of place . Would truly like to work in those conditions.

  37. Tyler
    02/27/2012 / 8:56 PM

    It is always nice to hear about quality craftsmanship when it comes to working with leather, epically one that is close to me in Fayetteville. I will have to go visit next time I am in Branson.

  38. 02/27/2012 / 10:15 PM

    great blog !! love the martin dingman wares !!

  39. Greg
    02/27/2012 / 10:36 PM

    Im one of those fresh out of college guys! I think this stuff is great cant wait to check out more!

  40. Aaron
    02/28/2012 / 3:10 AM

    I don’t care for monkstraps…or at least I didn’t think I did. But after seeing that pair from Martin Dingman’s Studio, I’ve changed my mind; those have me feeling funny in that pleasant way! BTW, I just found this blog and was so taken that I’ve spent the last couple of hours clicking thru backwards to its beginning (couldn’t sleep, and found it very enjoyable).

  41. TFoltyn
    02/28/2012 / 8:50 AM

    Looks fantastic!

  42. Alex P. Burke, Sr.
    02/28/2012 / 3:23 PM

    I would be proud to carry one of Martin Dingman’s fine products.

  43. Michael
    02/28/2012 / 4:35 PM

    Liked both facebook pages.

  44. Victor
    02/28/2012 / 5:12 PM

    Fantastic looking leather goods!

  45. Victor H
    02/28/2012 / 5:13 PM


  46. Justin Wiggins
    02/28/2012 / 6:24 PM

    Thanks for another giveaway.

    Like on Facebook and following on Twitter.

  47. Brad
    02/28/2012 / 6:47 PM

    Great place, great products. Would love one of these card holders.

  48. Coley Sheehan
    02/28/2012 / 7:05 PM

    I am a proud owner of the Martin Dingman Saxon Bit loafers. I am now on my second pair, not because they were worn down but because I wanted another style. Thanks for the great read!

  49. Brian
    02/28/2012 / 8:05 PM


  50. 02/28/2012 / 9:37 PM

    You did a wonderful job capturing Martin Dingman’s honest & high-quality company. I would love to win the card holder for my husband, who could always use a little more leather in his life. Thanks to you both for this opportunity.

  51. 02/28/2012 / 9:39 PM

    PS: I am following both of you on facebook and twitter.

  52. W. K. Ihrig
    02/28/2012 / 10:29 PM

    Beautiful shoes.

  53. Felix Urquia
    02/29/2012 / 2:26 AM

    Been on my wish list for a while.

  54. Ron Murphy
    02/29/2012 / 8:25 AM

    nice leather goods, would love a credit card wallet

  55. kaleb page
    02/29/2012 / 9:51 AM

    great company and great products

  56. kaleb page
    02/29/2012 / 2:37 PM

    I liked both pages on facebook and am following both on twitter.

  57. 02/29/2012 / 8:08 PM

    Those black cap toe boots are snazzy!

  58. 02/29/2012 / 9:07 PM

    Liked RCS and Martin Dingman on Facebook and follow both on Twitter.

  59. Dan
    03/01/2012 / 12:18 AM

    Those are some fantastic looking boots!

  60. Dan R
    03/01/2012 / 6:45 AM

    Great looking stuff. Thank you very much for the write up.

    (Twitter feeds followed and Facebook pages liked)

  61. Eric
    03/01/2012 / 7:57 AM

    Love the wallets…though mine is usually empty…love to have a new one.

  62. Todd M.
    03/01/2012 / 9:29 AM

    I should really get a facebook page to up my entries. I already follow RCS on Twitter so I added Martin Dingman on Twitter.

    Being someone that actually uss business cards, I could really use one of the gorgeous card holders!

  63. Benn
    03/01/2012 / 10:22 AM

    Got my first MD belt when I was 19. A pebbled leather cordovan dress belt. Still going strong 8 years later. Now that I am almost done with law school, would really dig one of these holders. Especially in an exotic leather.

  64. Jared Bell
    03/01/2012 / 1:34 PM

    I first saw Martin Dingman’s work in Kevin’s catalog. His wares look great.

  65. Phil.
    03/01/2012 / 4:44 PM

    I have for many years been a great admirer of Martin Dingman. He represents the essence of made in the USA quality. Great post!

  66. Phil.
    03/01/2012 / 4:44 PM


  67. Jay Turner
    03/01/2012 / 11:32 PM

    Excellent story. Great goods!

  68. Artie Turner
    03/02/2012 / 8:51 AM

    Would love to have one of these!

  69. Brooks Kerrick
    03/02/2012 / 9:35 AM

    Great story, great stuff. Enjoy it.

  70. Hendrick Booz
    03/03/2012 / 11:22 AM

    Thanks for sharing.

  71. ron payne
    03/03/2012 / 11:31 AM

    Oh my god, just kill me now–I want one of everything.

  72. Matt P
    03/03/2012 / 11:34 AM

    Done done and done (matt.e.parksAT/twitter/facebook). Great writeup; you’ve been killing it lately

  73. Charles
    03/03/2012 / 11:49 AM

    like redclaysoul on fbook and follow on twitter.

  74. Andrew Strayer
    03/03/2012 / 11:53 AM

    I’m leaving a comment here and following red clay soul on twitter (@Andrew_Strayer)

  75. 03/03/2012 / 1:07 PM

    I wore Martin Dingman driving shoes, and belt to my wedding so I am sort of partial but he makes great stuff. I am probably going to get a new pair of driving shoes sometime soon.
    Thanks for all of the cool pics!

  76. Mark Gianfalla
    03/03/2012 / 1:28 PM

    My feet could use a new pair of kicks with a side of bro!

  77. Chris
    03/03/2012 / 1:51 PM

    These look great!

  78. Tyler Winbourne
    03/03/2012 / 3:24 PM

    Awesome looking products!

  79. Christopher
    03/03/2012 / 5:42 PM

    Great article! I love reading about the creative process. And great credit card holders! 😉 +4 additional pts. (I “liked” both FB pages and added you both on Twitter!)

  80. CM
    03/03/2012 / 6:17 PM

    Great items!

    “Like” and “Follow” both!

  81. Michael Dunn
    03/03/2012 / 6:47 PM

    Woot woot Martin Dingman!

  82. Brian
    03/03/2012 / 7:01 PM

    bjbrodrick (at)

  83. Cory H.
    03/03/2012 / 9:53 PM

    Wow, I must say from visiting his website I think I may have fell in love! This would be a great fix from carrying my clunky wallet everywhere. Also, following both RCS and MD on twitter.

  84. Z.J.P
    03/04/2012 / 1:11 PM

    I could do some bank account damage for those shoes.


  85. Z.J.P
    03/04/2012 / 1:12 PM

    I could do some damage to the bank account for those shoes.

  86. Z.J.P
    03/04/2012 / 1:13 PM

    Sorry for the double post.

  87. Josh
    03/04/2012 / 2:17 PM

    Liked Red Clay Soul on Facebook and Martin Dingman!

  88. Patrick
    03/04/2012 / 9:31 PM

    I’ve been looking for a front-pocket wallet…this would be perfect.

  89. Patrick
    03/04/2012 / 9:32 PM

    I’ve been looking for a card holder…this would be perfect.

  90. Jeff Tait
    03/04/2012 / 10:11 PM

    Just stumbled upon your site and love it!

  91. Jeff Tait
    03/04/2012 / 10:15 PM

    Liked and followed e everyone!!!

  92. Zorro Gill
    03/05/2012 / 3:44 AM

    Nothing like quality leather goods

  93. Zorro Gill
    03/05/2012 / 3:46 AM

    I follow Red Clay Soul on twitter

  94. Zorro Gill
    03/05/2012 / 3:47 AM

    I also “like” Red Clay Soul on facebook

  95. Alex
    03/05/2012 / 4:03 PM

    Great blog, thanks Red Clay Soul !

  96. Alex
    03/05/2012 / 4:05 PM

    Great Blog!

  97. Alex
    03/05/2012 / 4:07 PM

    (sorry for the above post, internet was slow). I also follow redclaysoul and MartinDingmanLeather on twitter (@ _alexandreDS)

  98. Justin
    03/05/2012 / 6:10 PM

    Liked and followed all. justin at

  99. Justin
    03/05/2012 / 6:11 PM

  100. Justin
    03/05/2012 / 6:12 PM

    Oops.. Sorry.

  101. 03/06/2012 / 9:01 AM

    I liked Martin Dingman and Red Clay Soul on Facebook and Twitter

  102. 03/06/2012 / 3:01 PM

    Great stuff. I love the quality and story.

    I liked Matin Dingman on Facebook

    I liked Red Clay Soul on Facebook

    I follow Red Clay Soul on Twitter

    I follow Martin Digman on Twitter

    I will re-tweet as well. Thanks so much

  103. 03/06/2012 / 3:02 PM

    Great article! These are awesome products

  104. Gus Lopez
    03/06/2012 / 3:12 PM

    I liked Martin Dingman on Facebook

    I liked Red Clay Soul on Facebook

    I follow Red Clay Soul on Twitter

    I follow Martin Digman on Twitter

  105. Dan Watson
    03/06/2012 / 3:52 PM

    Great looking leather goods. That rifle case look amazing!

  106. weldon
    03/06/2012 / 4:08 PM

    I could definately use one of these card holders for work!!! Thanks for the chance!

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    03/22/2012 / 11:15 AM

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  108. 04/10/2012 / 1:45 AM

    A big Ozark Mountain thanks to all that participated in the card case give away! We truly appreciate your kind remarks! Also a HUGE thanks for the great job RCS! Stay tuned, although we have been producing leathergoods since 1990, the best is yet to come!

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