At Freedom of Movement we pride ourselves on delivering only the best genuine leather bags to the City of Cape Town and beyond. In order to do so we use only the very best genuine leather available; but how is leather produced, and what differentiates good leather for inferior quality?
Genuine leather, or rather cowhide, travels a long journey from field to fashion-wear. The process of turning a hide into leather is called tanning, which is truly an art. Tanners are incredibly skilled craftsmen who put in days of work in order to reap but a single piece of leather. In order to prevent a hide from deteriorating during the tanning process it is first cured. The curing process may involve such methods as salting or freezing used in combination with chemical preserving agents. The cured hide is then soaked in water for up to several days in order to remove dirt and rehydrate the hide. Next the hair is removed from the hide by means of chemical process and then the remaining flesh is mechanically removed from the opposite side of the hide.
The next step in the process is bathing and is another chemical bath which removes any remaining proteins and alien substances from the hide. The hide is then ready to be tanned. Tanning can last up to four days depending on the method chosen. Vegetable tannage is used in the production of genuine leather which is intended to be used to make leather bags and other luggage. Vegetable tannage uses a tannin extract in order to tan hides. This extract can be found in the bark of certain trees. A diluted form of this tannin is placed in a rotating drum along with the hide. Much like a washing machine the drum spins in order to “wash” the hide in the tannin extract.
Once the hide has been tanned it is considered genuine leather. The leather then needs to be dried. Depending on its intended use the leather can then further be treated with natural oils, or stretched in order to soften it. It can also be cut and dyed according to a customer’s stipulated specifications.
Not all tanned hides are created equal. Luckily, identifying good quality genuine leather is as simple as looking at one of our stylish, handcrafted genuine leather bags.
Good quality leather is free from scars and blemishes and has a natural grain pattern. Remember, a hide used to be covered in hair and genuine leather will have a natural pattern and dispersion of pores. Inferior quality leathers are often embossed with a grain pattern in order to hide imperfections, making them that much more difficult to spot. Rest assured, at Freedom of Movement every genuine leather product is made with only the finest quality leather.