The Manufacturing Process
The welfare of all involved is our priority. This means that no animal is used just as a leather donor. All goats and cattle are treated humanely throughout the process and there is virtually no waste.
You won’t see a gruelling clipboard wielding production manager pacing menacingly in our workshop. Instead, about fifteen classically trained and passionate artisans working hard at creating your bag. You could be in a time warp stepping back a few decades as you watch the crafts people using tools and methods that could have been passed down from their grandfather’s fathers.
When the temperature is soaring in to the hundreds Fahrenheit or forties Celsius the coolest and most comfortable place to be is sitting on the stone floor. Which is where leather messenger bags, satchels, briefcases, handbags are created.
Singing along to traditional Indian folk music helps relaxation and assists concentration. Let’s face it, who doesn’t sing along to their favourite tunes when they think no one can hear them!
The goat hides are carefully selected to ensure they are quality and will stand up to the demanding rigours of leather bag use. I know my briefcase (pre laptop!) took some battering when I had a bad day.
Tanning starts from the beginning where the hides are hygienically washed and dressed with vegetable oil. Leather is then free of any bacteria or harmful deposits and becomes tough, supple and hard wearing. Natural vegetable oil helps to create a water resistant barrier and softens to prevent decay. As leather dries out if it is not ‘tanned’ properly it will just decay and fall to pieces.
Here the bags begin to take on the beautiful shades of golden brown that give the unmistakable vintage appearance. The baking Indian sun then dries out the hides ready for cutting and stitching.
The groups of artisans work together in a hierarchy made up from junior craftsmen (apprentices), senior craftsmen and a team leader.
For about 3-4 years an apprentice will learn by cutting the leather forms, making straps, attaching linings until he or she is proficient in all of the tasks and moves to senior craftsman who will stitch the bag pieces together creating the rugged finished article.
In the final stages, excess thread is trimmed, the buckles are riveted on and the finishing quality inspection is carried out. Each vintage leather satchel, tote bag, overnight bag and all styles must meet the exacting quality standards or they will not leave the workshop.
The leather maker is a valued and respected artisan. They are treated well and paid well. They hold responsibility and authority. India’s leather trade is important to the economy and it is important for the security of the families that skills are past to the up and coming generations.
Wear your bag with pride!