Manufacturing Leather 101.
The best leather takes time.
Of course we could talk all about the well-known designer brands like Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Bottega Venetta… Go there and you can find some beautiful Italian or French leather handbags, although you might be better off putting a deposit on a house...
When learning about leather and researching leather product brands, we quickly realised that high-quality leather didn’t actually need to be so inaccessible for the regular guy or gal. The reasoning behind Kahn Barnes products stems from how we selected the leathers and the regions from which we sourced our buttery soft goods. Keeping in mind we knew we needed to deal in ideas like durability, feeling and of course, aesthetics. For that reason we needed to be sure that we were only using high quality, full grain leather.
Our thinking was about you, our most valued customer. We needed to enter the market knowing and ensuring that the customer (you) could fill your wallet, bag or purse after your purchase with Kahn Barnes, and still head out and enjoy the weekend without anxiously monitoring your goods carrying investment. If I had spent $1000 on a wallet, or $2000 on a bag, I’d be pretty scared of losing it, damaging it or even worse, having someone steal it. Your leather goods should be a companion, not a burden.
We were learning about leather quality to ensure we are investing our dollars into the right products, to which leather producers are meeting our ethical standards.
So let’s take a deeper dive into the world of leather production.
The common steps.
1. Raw Materials
Cow and or Sheep leathers are the most common, particularly Sheep in Australia. But leathers can be made from the hide of many animals, including pigs, goats and crocodiles. Many people believe that using PU leathers (fake/vegan leathers) are much better for the environment however these fake leathers are petroleum based, and have an ecological impact that some would say outweighs that of ethically sustained, genuine leather. Genuine leather is purely a bi-product of the meat industry, hides have been used for clothing and other products for centuries.
2. Curing & Soaking
The second stage of the process involves curing, primarily achieved by drying or salting the hide. This can be achieved by wet salting or brine curing. Wet salting is a longer process that usually takes around 30-days where the hides are piled. Brine curing however, can complete the process in as little as 16 hours, allowing the skins to become completely penetrated by the salt.
Next comes soaking. The skins are now soaked in pure water to eliminate the salt and other impurities. This process can usually take anywhere from 7 hours to 7 days.
3. Tanning, Dyeing & Finishing
After a couple more processual steps, it’s time to tan the leather. The most common way to do so is through vegetable tanning and mineral tanning. These processes allow the leather to become immune to decay and shrinkage. Fruits, wood and bark are amongst the materials used to create ‘tannin’, the tanning agent responsible for this process.
Depending on the type of tanning, it’s time to dye the leather. This process firstly involves bleaching the leather, as well as the use of epsom salts, oils, and glucose. The leather can then be lubricated with hot emulsions of soap, greases, and sometimes wax. The leather is then placed in a rotating drum with colouring materials to dye the leather. There are over 100 colours that leather can be dyed to. The leather is then stretched and dried through drying tunnels at a controlled heat and humidity level.
The finishing process of the leather then begins by coating the grain surface with a finishing compound. This can often be through a wax, resin or other material to give it that buttery smooth finish you’ll find on all Kahn Barnes products!
Making the right choice.
Looking after your Kahn Barnes leather goods.
We recommend waxing your products every couple of months to keep the leather soft and beautiful. Although our full-grain leather products are all of the highest quality, keeping your products loved will ensure they last even longer! This is a great way to ensure you keep your Kahn Barnes bag or wallet for years to come!
Premium leather doesn’t have to break the bank.
We identified a gap in the luxury leather goods market, and realised that these products didn’t have to be so inaccessible. For a tiny fraction of what it would cost for a designer wallet or bag, you can shop with Kahn Barnes knowing you have a high-quality, durable and timelessly stylish piece of kit. As we grow and evolve we will love to share the journey with you and here at Kahn Barnes.
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