Will Leather Goods: A Hollywood Story

by | Feb 15, 2024 | Lifestyle

Bill Adler’s success story reads like a Hollywood script, which is only fitting because Adler spent his younger years as an actor on such classic TV shows as “The Rookies,’’ “Kojak,’’ “Vegas,’’ “Welcome Back Kotter’’ and “Chips.’’

“I made a great living as a bad guy in my early 20s,’’ said Adler, founder and CEO of Will Leather Goods, one of the golf industry’s top designers/manufacturers of authentic leather products.

Remember “Switchblade Sisters?’’ Not many people do, but Adler appeared in the 1975 exploitation film’s van drive-by-shooting scene, which is believed to be the first of its kind put on celluloid.

“It was very violent for its day,’’ Adller said.

“Switchblade Sisters’’ is now a cult classic – re-released in 1996 by legendary director Quentin Tarantino.

The 1981 Writers Guild Strike – similar to the recently settled strike – sent Adler toward another career path, where he joined his brother in the fashion industry. Here’s where Adler’s story becomes better than a Hollywood script: He began making webbed belts – called Rainbow Belts – out of his garage and selling them from a stand on the famed Venice Beach boardwalk.

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As the company grew more popular in the Southern California area, Adler changed the name to ‘Billy Belts.’’ In 1992. After reaching  $10 million in sales, Adler sold Billy Belts to Brighton Accessories. Three years later, he moved to Eugene, OR, and established a licensing agreement with Nike, which was in the beginning stages of getting into golf. The agreement still exists.

“Phil Knight (Nike Chairman) and Mindy Grossman (Nike’s Senior Vice President of Merchandise) said we had to turn belts into technology,’’ Adler said. “Golfers had to wear belts, and he wanted that head-to-toe look – the modern uniform of golf.

In 2007, Adler founded Will Leather Goods, selling handcrafted leather goods, including belts, handbags, briefcases, duffle bags, messenger bags, and backpacks. The company’s golf clients include Pinehurst Resort, Bandon Dunes, and Pebble Beach.

“Anyone who appreciates quality loves what we do,’’ Adler said. “And we embrace world artisans. We work with artists in Mexico, Italy, and France. Each of our products is 100 percent guaranteed for life.’’

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There’s no denying Adler takes pride in his accomplishments (maybe even Switchblade Sisters), but one accomplishment stands out. That’s Adler’s “Discover Your Will’’ program through the “Give Will Foundation,’’ which provides backpacks to underprivileged children in America.

“We’ve given away more than 35,000 backpacks,’’ Adler said. “We put a piece of leather on each one and have the kids write their dreams.’’

Now, that’s a Hollywood ending.

willleathergoods.com

Feature Photo: Bill Adler
Photo Credits: Will Leather Goods

OnCoreGolf
OnCoreGolf

About the Author

<a href="https://golfonemedia.com/author/steve_pike/" target="_self">Steve Pike</a>

Steve Pike

Steve “Spike” Pike is a lifelong journalist whose career covers Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college basketball. For the past 26 years, Spike has been one of the more respected voices in the golf and travel industries, working for such publications as Golfweek, Golf World, and Golf Digest for The New York Times Magazine Group. In 1998, Spike helped launch the PGA.com website for the PGA of America. As a freelance travel and golf writer, Spike’s travels have taken him around the world. He has played golf from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews, walked the Great Wall of China, climbed an active volcano in the Canary Islands, been on safari in South Africa, and dived with sharks off Guadalupe, Baja California.