Where does leather come from?
There are two main types of leather: chrome tanned and vegetable tanned leather. Their names come from the processes which are used to produce them.
Chrome leather is made with various chemicals, the most important one being – you would have guessed – chrome. The process is very quick contrary to vegetable tanned leather. It is a relatively recent tanning method, which appeared in the 19th century.
Unlike chrome tanned leather, vegetable tanned leather is a much older and more “organic” tanning method. Vegetable tanning was the first process invented by humans to treat and process animal skin, making it durable and wearable. This method appeared thousands of years ago. Vegetable tannins are mingled with water and the skin is then soaked in this solution.
This leather is produced in much smaller quantities, in a more traditional way by skilled craftsmen. This process is also much slower (a few weeks compared to just a day for chrome leather), but the leather produced is of great quality.
This leather is also special as it will develop a gorgeous patina overtime.
What kind of leather are the Klès bags made of?
For my products, I mainly use vegetable tanned leather. I love the fact that this leather is thicker, more rigid, and that it can be used with raw edges. It also lasts longer than chrome leather. The LANA bag is a great example of all those qualities.
Chrome leather is the most commonly used type of leather in the world. Most fashion retail brands use it. It is quick to produce and enables them to bring the costs down. It does have a big impact on the environment, as it is less natural and requires more chemical products. If not well treated, the toxic water the skins are soaked in can be really harmful for the environnement.
Vegetable tanned leather requires less chemical products and has a more natural aspect. This is why I prefer to use it too. This leather is quality and environmentally durable. If well taken care of, an item made of this leather can last more than 50 years!
My products are all handmade, and vegetable leather fits perfectly with my philosophy.
The natural beauty of this leather can be fully appreciated on the MISHA pouch thanks to its minimalist shape that lets the leather speak for itself. All Klès pouches are compact and they can be customised with initials.
Where do I source my leather ?
I like to buy local. As I’m based in London, I buy my leather in Dalston, from an independent shop. I appreciate this shop because I can choose each hide myself. It is important because every hide is different, they all have their own marks.
Most of the leather I use comes from Italy, where they produce some of the best leathers in the world. For my products I like to use cow leather. I find it nice to work with and I love its texture: rigid and a little soft at the same time.
How to take care of leather products and make them last?
Leather needs to be cleaned and nourished every few months, it is an organic and natural material after all.
I recommend using a natural leather balsam or saddle soap that will moisturise the leather and shouldn’t darken it too much.
Before applying the balsam or saddle soap, clean the leather with a lightly damp cloth. Leave it to dry for a few hours, then apply the balsam/saddle soap with a sponge or a soft cloth, rubbing gently.
Remove the excess with a clean cloth.
Exposition to the sun can damage and stain the leather. Liquids and leather don’t go very well together too! If your bag gets soaked in the rain, leave it to dry naturally and once dry apply a leather conditioner such as saddle soap.