One video opens with a large white leather handbag covered in the signature LV logo of Louis Vuitton. Within milliseconds, a hand with a switchblade swoops in and slashes a huge gash in the side of the bag before tearing it apart at its seams. In another, the distinctive red sole of Christian Louboutin is loudly ripped from a black stiletto using a wrench; in still another, scissors snip through a $2,200 Prada clutch before a man sets fire to a piece of the leather and turns it to ash.
You’ve entered the TikTok world of Tanner Leatherstein, which has more than 950,000 followers. Leatherstein, whose real name is Volkan Yilmaz, has attracted a cult following on the social media platform — as well as on YouTube and Instagram — for his butchering of exorbitantly expensive items. The reason, he says, is to show his viewers the true quality of the materials and craftsmanship and then break down how much the item may have cost to make.
“In many cases,” Mr. Yilmaz said from his Dallas workshop in December, “my estimates come in at about a tenth of what the price tag says. The markups that underpin the luxury business still shock a lot of people.”
In the edited interview below, Mr. Yilmaz, 37, discussed his lifelong obsession with leather, how much he spends on luxury products for his platform and what people should look for when buying new leather items.
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