Monday, July 19, 2010

Inside a Tannery

I visited the luxury leather tannery Stefania a while back, here are some pictures from that visit:

Even if it says the leather comes from Italy, it usually means that the skins come from another country (Eastern Europe, India, Asia, etc.), where the hides go through the first tanning process, then they are shipped to Italy for the other half of the tanning and finishing process. So in reality it's not the skins themselves of "Italian leather" that make them special, it's the high-quality tanning process. The hides, after they have undergone the first tanning and are ready to be shipped, are called wet blue hides because of their pale blue color (see above).

The hides are dyed in drums that spin like a washing machine. The smaller drum (above) is for sample-making, while the larger drums (below) are for large production orders. Once dyed, the leather goes through many steps to apply the finish, whether it be suede, patent, or laminated.

Above, black suede is sorted for quality. Most black suede is grey in color because it is difficult to get the dye to adhere and achieve a saturated black.

Finished skins, stacked and ready for processing