April 04, 2021 2 min read
Black, smooth, supple... these are a few of the qualities that we associate with something luxurious.
Dealers of leather goods items use terms like of the highest quality, purity, heritage, luxurious, Italian, calfskin all to describe a dead animal's skin.
Why do we fall for these descriptions? It's because the leather making industry takes an animal's skin and then has spent years creating chemicals and methods of processing, what is referred to as "tanning" to turn an animal's skin into something that feels good to the touch, has a distinct smell (of chemicals), and a certain appearance. Like poets, writers create descriptions as if they were describing scenes in nature to disguise what's simply the skin off of an animal's back.
In truth, leather is just that, the skin off of an animal's back. No amount of tanning takes this away. Tanning might make the skin feel different but it never loses its origin. So what really constitutes luxury? Is a cow raised in Italy so much different from a cow raised in India? Luxury comes from rarity, beautiful materials and workmanship but most of all it comes from perception.
I would challenge someone to bring to us an animal leather that feels more luxurious than the material that we use to make our slim backpack. I have not touched an animal leather that is softer, more supple, or dare I say... more luxurious than the material on this backpack. The microfiber base used to make this material consists of filaments that are finer than an animals skin and can create a smoother feel. If a high end brand picked up this material, took it to Italy and made the same backpack, they would easily charge five times as much.
But back to leather and luxury. It's taken the leather industry years to cement its status as a luxury material. We will have to change this perception over time, disambiguate what leather actually is and educate the general public that leather is just processed animal skin.
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