I often have clients who contact me telling me that they are looking for something “sustainable“. Strange question for me, because everything I do in thought and designed to be sustainable.
There is good news in this:
- 1. people realize that they are being sold items that are not designed to last,
- 2. they no longer want those disposable items.
Hooray! We are on the right path.
It reminds me of this client who calls me one day and says: “I would like to order two belts from you, because I had two made twenty years ago and they are a little at the end of their life, so I would like to have two more made so that they are still twenty years old! “.
That’s it, we’re there.
No maintenance, no lasting
A leather item needs to be maintained.
Being durable is normally the hallmark of a leather item. Unfortunately, depending on the type of leather used (and I’m not even talking about non-leather materials), the lifespan of an item will be more or less long. It is also necessary to take into account that an article in leather needs to be maintained, even a little. If you leave it lying around in dust, humidity, direct sunlight for hours, or if you add it all up, the lifespan of a leather item will be drastically reduced, without the quality of the workmanship. or the skin cannot be involved.
However, depending on the type of finish, it is possible to make the leather a little less sensitive to this abuse. Edge work is one of the best examples of this: without finishing, the leather fibers are left in the open air, so the door is open for dust and humidity. Also a wafer finish will prevent dust and humidity from penetrating the fibers in depth. However, it will be necessary to ensure that the work on the section is correctly carried out, otherwise at best we will lose protection quickly, at worst we will make matters worse.
Attention: not too much maintenance either
The maintenance of leather has two purposes: to clean and nourish. While you can clean a leather item as often as needed, care should be taken not to overfeed it.
On the one hand, because depending on what you use to feed it (such as beef foot oil for example), you can make the leather lose its rigidity, giving it more flexibility. But when we use a rather stiff leather, we do not want it to become too soft.
On the other hand, excess nourishment from a leather article can accelerate its degradation. As this Museum of Canada article demonstrates, overfeeding a leather item can end up degrading it faster than it would naturally.
In short: durable leather is possible!
Provided it is properly worked, cleaned and nourished sufficiently and without excess, a leather item can last for decades or more. I still remember this riding saddle, 70 years old, and still viable for a few years. However, we are here on an object subject to many constraints.
Here at the Cognac leather workshop, I use leathers whose tanning and processing ensure a relatively long lifespan. In addition, each item being sewn, it is therefore necessarily repairable.
If a seam is loose: we redo it, if a piece of leather breaks, we change it, and let’s go!
And on the belts it’s even better: I only use buckles on a solid brass base, whatever the finish, which ensures an extremely long life for the buckle. So if the leather ends up wearing out, we cut, we take the buckle again, and we make a new belt, which also avoids having to pay for a new buckle.
In reality, working with leather already amounts to sustainable development, but that has been known to those who work with leather for thousands of years. Will we talk about it in a future article!