Our Top-Favourite Leathers

A truth: we are very fussy about our leathers. Tusting has been at the centre of the UK leather trade for 150 years, and all those years of knowledge can’t be ignored; they very clearly inform the leather choices we make on our customers’ behalf. We specify our favourite leathers very precisely with our partner tanneries and we only source leather from tanneries that are assessed as ‘gold-rated’ (that’s the highest rating available) by the Leather Working Group, an independent industry watchdog that works tirelessly to minimise the environmental impact of the leather-making process.

Most of our bags feature one of three distinct types of leather, these are our favourites – and yours, of course – here’s why they’ve earned their spot.

Sundance and Aztec – The Pull-Ups

Sundance and Aztec are two different leathers, but they have such similar features that we can talk about them together. They take the joint prize as our best-selling leather for Travel and Business pieces, and for good reason – they are awesome all-rounders.

A ‘pull-up’ leather is dyed a slightly lighter colour during the tanning process than its finished tone. The leather is then treated with many layers of warm wax of a darker shade which sinks into the upper layers of the leather and forms a protective surface. When the finished leather bends and flexes, the surface fibres pull apart a little to reveal the lighter shade below, giving the piece made from it a pleasing look and feel of a familiar favourite.

These leathers are tanned with modern methods, using a combination of traditional and synthetic dyes, creating a robust, flexible and very colour-fast leather that is ideal for making tough yet lightweight luggage and bags that will perform well through many decades of regular use.

The secret brilliance of these two leathers is that that they have no polish on their surface. The Aztec is lightly buffed off to soften the surface before being hot-stuffed with melted waxes. This lets the wax sink deep into the leather, much like the process used in making a waxed jacket. This gives a matt, slightly ‘distressed’ surface that is very water-resistant and immune to virtually any normal, in-use insults. The Sundance is ‘plated’; pressed with a hot, smooth roller to compact the grain, then oiled to give a smooth, slightly glossy surface. Sundance is also good for many decades of hard labour, and both leathers, being uncoated and rich in waxes, have the benefit of being easily smartened up with a hot hairdryer and a bit of rich leather dressing.

Atlantic – The Smooth One

Handbags, luggage, accessories – everything works beautifully in Atlantic. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with the sea, or anything in it, and it is not fish leather… but it is deep and glossy. We first found leather like this from a superior Norwegian tannery  which sadly closed its doors almost fifteen years ago – they called it ‘Atlantic’. Since their closure, we have specified leather with very similar properties from other top European tanneries and we continue to call it by this familiar name. It is, like almost all the leather we use, a bovine, full-grain leather. Atlantic is also tanned by modern methods, it is aniline dyed (meaning the colour goes all the way through the leather) and has a lightly polished surface to bring a delicate gloss which is perfect for more formal or lighter-weight pieces.

Atlantic is durable but absolutely not plastic-coated, so whilst this means that it can get scratched by life’s adventures, it also yielding and warm to the touch, is naturally very resilient and will absorb the typical bumps and scrapes a bag will encounter in its life, forming a patina over time and holding its form well. It polishes well and takes colour restoration willingly if, after many years of exposure to light, it needs a little rejuvenation. Atlantic comes in a large variety of colours, the incredibly versatile Taupe being the most popular, as seen in our Mini Holly and Holly,

Elba – The Full Veg

Traditional, tumbled Italian Vachetta leather, Elba is tanned using age-old methods, a slow process that uses only vegetable extracts. The result is a soft and flexible Vachetta that polishes rapidly with use – every single buff, rub and stroke of daily life contributes to the process. The pebbled surface of our Elba is at first matt, but soon forms a glorious patina with use, as the waxes in the leather set and the surface slowly seals. It is a totally uncoated leather, with a natural absorbency and a tendency to darken slightly in colour over time – this is typical of veg-tanned leather and is perhaps most famously seen in the pale cream Vachetta trim of a new Louis Vuitton classic, which darkens to a rich tan over time. This absorbency means Veg leather can pick up stains – clean up any liquid that spills on it as quickly as possible, and wipe rain drops into a more even dampness if you get caught out in a shower. However, the dark colours of our Elba – Black and Chestnut – make it a very practical as well as luxurious choice.

A classic and very desirable leather, Elba makes beautiful bags – Laptop Covers and Folios in particular are perfectly suited to it – it moulds and shapes itself around your papers and laptop, and quickly patinas as these are frequently-handled items.

 

There is more to know about these and our other materials here.

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