Leather: Horsehide Tanneries Viva Italia
Part of the process of developing my jacket lines is to search out the most authentic original materials I can find to recreate the footsteps of my ancestors. The leather jacket makers of the past searched out the best materials, animals, skins, tanners, zippers, buttons, sewers and threads to make jackets that would look better, perform better, out last, and hopefully outprice, their competitors. The issues were never purely price driven. These great companies are only recognized and collected today because the jackets and products they made are still around and were made to stand the test of time. There are so few sources of products worthy of manufacturing jackets in the “old way” I have been ordering leather, and working with tanneries globally to buy some of the best veg. tanned horsehide on the planet. My horsehides come from several sources in Japan, North America and now Italy.
There is a method to this madness of ordering hides from different tanneries. Firstly it can take up to a year to produce vegetable tanned horsehide. I can’t just run down to the corner store and order it up on demand! Secondly, each tannery is kind of like a winery. They use different horses, different tannages, different oils and subtly different techniques to make their hides. Like wine, hides come out with slightly different characteristics from each tannery, different tempers, different finishes and different feels. While it is popular to focus on one brand or another these days, I can assure you that focusing on one tannery is like only drinking one brand of wine, it might be good but variety is the spice of life! I can’t and don’t just call up and order leather. I work very hard to experiment with tannages, bating and finishes to come up with the most authentic and best “feel” of leather possible. I have been working on buffalo, goat and horsehide.
I just got new horsehide in from Italy. It is beautiful, a very vintage style hide on the “drier” side of vegetable tanning with a very nice hand. The leather has a papery crust with a really nice dark rich black brown finish and a two colour analine dye finish. This leather is absolutely lovely. It is also very very authentic to early 1930s sporting leathers that were veg. tanned. Jacket samples will be coming soon!