Leather. We all know what it means. Quality, rich, soft touch, and the smell – oh, that smell!
Leather is used to make a variety of articles, including footwear, automobile seats, clothing, bags, book bindings, fashion accessories and furniture.
It is produced in a wide variety of types and styles and decorated by a wide range of techniques. The earliest record of leather artifacts dates back to 2200 BC.
But let’s stop and think for a moment which country originated leather and became known for it.
You got it right, it’s Italy!
Italy stands for: “I Trust and Love You” and we can definitely trust the Italians when it comes to leather.
Vegetable tanned leather
Now, historically, the Italians have always done a great job tanning leather just the right way. For centuries, this meant vegetable-tanning the leather and taking care of it along the way.
Because of this dedication to the old-world techniques and vegetable-tanned leather, Italian leather earned the reputation as the finest leather.
In the more modern era, many have sought to capitalize on this reputation by simply finishing the leather in Italy and stamping it Italian leather.
The definition was even stretched to include chrome-tanned and other types of leather.
Vegetable-tanned leather lasts much longer than chrome tanned leather. As a matter of fact, you will notice that it will seem new even after several years.
The process of vegetable-tanning can take up to 40 days. It is conscientious manufacturing, rooted in tradition.
The reason why vegetable-tanned leather is more expensive than chrome-tanned leather is that it takes longer time to make.
The natural chemicals are not as effective as heavy metals. As a result, using natural chemicals takes longer time and we all know what a longer tanning process means – higher prices.
Made in Italy
The genuine ‘Made in Italy’ stamp on a leather item means that every step of the production of that item – from hide sourcing to tanning and dyeing to designing and manufacturing – took place in Italy.
Such ‘Made in Italy’ leather goods command a premium price among the well-heeled and style-conscious buyers, which means prices of hundreds and thousands of dollars.
Italian craftsmanship is among the most exquisite money can buy.
Italian leather may be outstanding but it is still a raw material that needs designing and production before it can command top dollars on shop shelves. That’s where Italy’s formidable design reputation gets down to work.
The fashion items made in Italy are huge favorites of those who are willing to spend great sums to join the list of “the best dressed”.
As Milan is one of the undisputed fashion capitals of the world and Italian high fashion brands are among the crème de la crème of haute couture.
Italian leather has absorbed many of attributes associated with them. The attributes such as high quality, high fashion and good taste.
Tuscany is famous all over the world for its handcraft leather products such as jackets, bags, belts, shoes, wallets and accessories, and the area between Pisa and Florence is home to the largest leather production in Italy.
That’s why leather shops can be found almost everywhere and sometimes the choice can be overwhelming.
But first things first – you have to decide on the quality of the leather you want: full-grain, top-grain, genuine, bonded or imitation? The difference is in the fineness of the grain and in the manufacture.
No need to say that higher quality means a higher (sometimes much higher) price, but the cost shouldn’t be the only factor to consider: it mostly depends on your taste and on the kind of products you are looking for.
Understanding the quality of leather
There are some details that must be taken into consideration in order to be sure that the leather goods you’re buying are worth their price:
It is about the stitching. This rule is valid for almost any handmade good: for the quality to be high, the stitching has to be tight and regular.
Make sure that the stitches are small and sewn close together.
The flexibility. Leather should not feel rigid in your hands: it has to be smooth and soft. The more the better.
The smell. Your nose will tell you if the leather you’re about to buy is good. If you smell a chemical, it means that it has been treated to appear more valuable, so it’s better to put the item off and look for something else.
The aroma should be entirely natural.
Color is also an important factor to consider: in some cases, a dye can mask an imperfect or low quality grain. However, this choice is up to anyone’s taste: if you like your bag or wallet in red or green color, go for it!
Just try to find out if the color is only on the surface or it penetrates through the core.
If all of the above is taken into consideration, it shouldn’t be too hard to find the right leather for every occasion and learn something about it in the process.
If you are wondering how to protect it, don’t take too much time on it. The trick is to not soak it in water and to avoid leaving it in direct sunlight.
Store the leather in a cool, dry place and don’t forget to wrap it in a soft clean cloth (but we are sure you know that already).
So now that we hopefully explained why it never goes out of style and why Italian leather is always going to burst with quality, you can plan you trip to Italy or – maybe even better – just do some shopping online until you get there.