The last in our series of leather suppliers, and our only international leather producer.
What can I say? You want leather, go to Italy.
Located in an area of Tuscany where leather has been produced since the 8th century BCE, Tempesti has been tanning leather since the mid-1940s. A baby, in Etruscan terms, but still that's a pretty good run.
One of the founding members of the Pelle al vegetale, a consortium of 23 tanneries based in Tuscany, the tannery and alliance promotes the use of veg-tanned leather as well as sustainable environmental practices, and technological advances. Traditional leather production is a way of life in this community, and we're not talking some cute, small operation - there is nothing old-timey about these manufacturers. They've figured out how to make a traditional product, scaled to meet modern demands and serious workplace safety standards. I hope to spend some time in their facility in the future, but in the meantime, there's a beautifully thorough and well-researched visit, documented by the UK-based Ajoto - I highly recommend reading through their factory tour if you want to learn more about the Tempesti process.
We rely heavily on the leathers Tempesti supplies for one big reason: colour. The Italians stock colours! We have our materials custom split to our specification, but the lovely array of colours we're able to use are just what they do. I'm sure there is an American tannery that stocks a lovely range of hues, but we haven't found one. Or better put, we haven't found one that is ready and willing to work with us. Tempesti is completely supportive of a small production model and their customer relationships are totally no-fuss. So they have the colour variety, the technical ability, a lovely product, and they're just easy to work with. What else could we want? Oh, they have this: the hides are a by-product of meat production cattle that is shipped from Sweden, where farming standards are extremely high and as a result, not only is the product a responsible use of the full animal, but the skins are from what were very healthy animals. Healthy animals, good skin.
We love working with this malleable, soft leather. The finish is very flat so when the item is new, it doesn't have much of a shine to it. Only with use, as the leather burnishes from contact and takes on oils from regular handing, does it start to develop a sheen, softening and darkening. This leather truly takes on the characteristics of the user in a way that we appreciate. The skins allow us to posit an idea - femininity, seasonality, formal experimentation - while resisting a thesis about the colour itself, because we know it will change and eventually it will resemble the user. The Tempesti leather allows us to fulfill a goal of a collection that is expressive, rather than merely demonstrative. And for this, we are very grateful.