Image credit: Horween Leather Co.
Our materials are where everything begins and the tanneries are our most valued partners. Obviously, we couldn't do what we do without them, and so I'm starting a series of posts to give them each a proper introduction. Part I: the venerated Horween Leather Company of Chicago, UL.
The first leather we sought out when I started seriously working with the material, was the legendary Horween Leather Co. Established in 1905, the company has a wide range products, everyone of them of the highest quality, and leathergeeks throughout the land drool over their goods. The people who go after bespoke men's footwear, for instance, they can tell you all about Horween.
Our line utilizes only one Horween product, in only one of our styles: the original Trudis Tote, in Horween Chromexcel. I would encourage you to head over to their excellent blog post to learn about the tannage process of this particular leather; nobody tells the story of this sought-after material like the tannery itself and the imagery is both evocative and informative. The summary: it's an incredible process that renders an immaculate product through days of labour and skill. Chromexcel if water-resistant, wears beautifully, tonally nuanced, tough as nails, and supple as silken tofu. "Hot-stuffed" with oils and waxes, the leather can start with a slight surface haze, that is gradually absorbed by the open-pored leather with use, making for a well hydrated and protected leather that gets better with age.
All of this effusive going-on begs the question: if we love it so much, why only use one product? Why go on and on about how great Horween is, and then only offer one style? This is where we bump up against the logistics of working with a material: we have a very specific color palette for the overall collection and Horween simply doesn't stock our current tonal direction. We don't produce in quantities high enough to afford a custom dye lot, so we work with what tanneries stock, and at this moment the Oxblood Chromexcel is the only colour from Horween that fits into our overall palette. There are also technical considerations, in that this particular leather is combination tanned, imparting the characteristics that make it so lovely, but it also makes shaping and working the material best suited to soft shapes. At the moment, the majority of our styles require a level of stiffness to hold shape, to which we look to a strict veg-tanned leather to help us along. But more on that later.
I'm considering offering our Dolores Oversized Clutch in Oxblood, in the fall. As the collection evolves, so too will our offerings of Horween's lovely, lovely goods. But for the moment, we like a singular style in a singular material. Our Trudis Tote was the first bag, and Horween was our first supplier, so why shouldn't they stand alone?