At Palais Brongniart on 12 and 13 December 2017, tanneries presented their colour vision for a resolutely optimistic Summer 2019. The tanneries’ pre-collections promise a fresh and spruce season with early indications suggesting a palette that is ostensibly light-hearted and uninhibited. Of course, warm tones remain present in the classics, but they come in lighter shades such as gold, chamois, camel or cognac. And they share the stage with some very bold colours such as mint green, salmon pink, Parma violet, lemon yellow and a wide palette of flesh colours, setting the tone for very cheerful season. Nonetheless, quality remained the watchword of the exhibitors, all of whom respected the high standards required by the show.
The innovations of the tanneries can be grouped into ten categories, demonstrating the vitality of their creativity and their desire to continually seduce and astonish their clients.
Texture is everything
Tanneries know that the texture of the leather is its greatest asset over rival materials. That is why they did not hesitate to focus on the tactile dimension of their items, a reminder of its peerless sensuality. “Worked as if it were glove leather, drum dyed, without a spray finish,” the baby calf from Alric is truly sublime. However, its producer, Jean-Charles Duchêne reminds us that “we have to accept the fragility of skins like these and the lesser precision of its colour.” Playing with the drumming, its temperature and humidity level, and the nourishing oils that are used, Bonaudo gives its calfskin article Sofia, which has a very light finish, an irresistible warm and silky texture. Similarly, the texture of a soft calf leather from Tanneries Roux resembles that of a dipped lamb leather due to the delicacy of its grain. And Tanneries Haas have given the name Agnello to one of its calfskin items in recognition of its fine texture.
In contrast, some tanneries knowingly denature the leather to generate surprise when touching the surface. Thus, Victoria gives its article Bahrain a waxy texture, as a result of feeding it with oils and other oily agents. Through the use of an ad hoc finish, Tanneries Roux produce a rubbery texture on their Polo calfskin. And inversely, Carisma give an impermeable finish to a baby calfskin, making it feel dry to the touch.
Agnello Calfskin from Tanneries Haas Bahrain calfskin with a waxy texture Impermeable baby calf with a dry texture
from Victoria from Carisma
Vegetable-tanned leathers are very much appreciated by consumers. But their physical characteristics mean they are not always suitable for the usages required by modern life. Some tanneries manage to reconcile the advantages of chrome tanning with the appearance of vegetable tanning. Thus, Masoni offers a family of leathers with fullness as well as the typical stiffness of vegetable tanned leathers, ideal for footwear and leather goods.
As a result of the “intense use of vegetable tanning agents during retanning”, the full grained Marco Polo leather from Tanneries Haas takes on the appearance of vegetable-tanned leather while preserving the technical characteristics of chrome tanned leather. Using a similar retanning process, Valori also causes an optical illusion on a chrome tanned box side.
Calf with a vegetable-tanned finish Box side by Valori
As if to awaken the senses and give even more presence to their skins, tanners have added a three-dimensional effect using a range of more or less sophisticated procedures. Valori, for example, adds a silver laminate to its box side plus a layer of opaque wax that fades during brushing, allowing the silver to shine through. At Cilp, wavelets created by buffing and then covered with a varnish, enliven the surface of its half-calf skins. The crocodile leathers from Italven are dyed and patinated using an alcohol-imbibed sponge, giving them a breathtaking relief. The bovine flesh split from Chiorino Tecchnology, covered with a diamond finish, appears to be peppered with tiny sharp spikes. At Gaiera Giovanni, the surface of a goat leather, covered with a finish using thermo-expansive products, is striated under the effect of the heat of the printing plate. San Lorenzo spray black dye onto the tip of the hair of a wool-on lambskin, giving even more depth to the skin. Synthetic materials can also be treated with a process that deforms them in order to gain in volume. That is why Italian Converter thermoform a flexible sheet of transparent polyurethane with a variety of patterns, such as lines or bubbles, that it can then coat with an interlining printed in tortoiseshell, for example.
Fashion article in calfskin by Valori Patinated crocodile skin from Italven Wool-on lamb leather from San Lorenzo
Leather sometimes likes to exaggerate its animal nature with fashion finishes that are unrealistic but resolutely joyful. Such as Russi di Cassandrino, with these big cat markings screen-printed onto a white hair-on calfskin. Or a superficial dye on the tips of a wool-on lambskin from Inducol-Indutan. Or the use of masking to give these very graphic colours to a python by Centrorettili. Or, finally, this centred screen-print of another python from Reptilis.
Screen-printed hair-on calfskin from Python from Centrorettili
Russo di Cassandrino
Always doing more
Tanneries spare no efforts to fully satisfy their clients. Firstly, by producing articles offering even greater performance. The calfskin flesh split by Opéra for example, is guaranteed to be colourfast, and boasts optimal water and light resistance thanks to the deep fixing of the colour. Deviconcia has refined a dipped lamb using a high-performance synthetic tanning process, applied by hand, producing physical characteristics comparable to a similar, chrome-tanned article. Gaiera Giovanni has developed a finish (on lamb leather here) that offers maximum resistance to scratches as well as finger marks and dirt. Italian Converter offers a stretch seamless tubular fabric, ideal for the production of “panta-shoes” In addition, tanneries do not overlook the importance of optimising their customer service. So, Curtidos Badia offers its clients a stock of mechanical or drummed grain box side leather in a choice of 86 colours.
Synthetically tanned dipped lamb Box side from Curtidos Badia
Perfection can sometimes be, if not boring, then at least rather impersonal. That is why certain tanneries decide to celebrate the “living” character of leather, the uniqueness of each skin and the life of the animal from whence it comes. The horse nubuck from Alric, with its scratches, stings and other scars, is no less superb for all that. To showcase its very slightly pricked lamb leathers, Richard drums them and in doing so accentuates the grain that hides these tiny defects, which has the added advantage of giving the leather a very pleasant full texture. The colour of the curls of the Tigrado lamb leather from Inducol-Indutan is deliberately imprecise, to give an even more natural look to this very curly fur. The colour on the flesh side of the Toscana lamb leather from San Lorenzo is also deliberately superficial so that it will wear off during buffing and give the product a vintage appearance. At Remy Carriat, on buffalo leather, at Centrorettili on python, or at Gaiera Giovanni on goat, the second layer of colour is brushed or dulled to allow the first solution-dyed colour to emerge. Lastly, certain tanneries deliberate choose to offer imperfect products: Tanneries Roux crisp up a calf leather during drumming, using an astringent product; Superior offers a calfskin with an artificially scratched finish, and another that has been given a grain then crumpled by hand, then pressed in a machine; while Cilp presents a half-calf that is embossed and drummed to give a wrinkled appearance.
Drummed lamb from Calf with a “scratched” finish Half-calf with a wrinkled appearance
the Richard tannery from Conceria Superior from Conceria Cilp
Another double side
Products described as “double sided” generally mean wool-on lamb leathers where the flesh side, covered with a finish, or buffed to suede, gives the skin reversibility. But some hair-free leathers can also be reversible. At Valori, for example, the suede contrasts with the irregular finish on the grain side. Whilst at Chez Chiorino Technology, a polyurethane finish decorates both sides of a bovine flesh split, meaning that both sides can be used.
Double-sided calf leather Bovine Flesh Split with a double-sided
from Valori finish from Chiorino Technology
Very present in collections for at least the last two seasons, metallics remain a priority for tanneries and labels for Summer 2019. At Russo di Cassandrino, the preference is for metallic finishes because of their stronger test performances, even if their appearance suggest lamination. Bonaudo opts for a similar choice of finish, with the final product being washed “for the summer”, so we are told. In contrast, Gruppo Mastrotto opts for lamination which it applies to the tip of the grain of white bovine leathers, obtaining a two-tone silvery finish. On python, Reptilis places a silvery film which seems to restore the skin’s original shine. More sophisticated, the crocodile skins from Italven are covered with a silver film then buffed to give a light nubuck finish, leaving the scales matt while the area between the scales is metallic. Even more subtle, the suede of the baby calfskin from Alric is so fine that it takes on the metallic shine of silk. Truly great art!
Metallised and washed finished article Laminated metallic articles Baby calf suede from the Alric tannery
from Bonaudo from Gruppo Mastrotto
Different species imitate one another in their efforts to seduce stylists, borrowing the best from each other. Sometimes this can even deceive the most expert fingers and eyes! Earlier, we mentioned those calfskins with a texture so soft and silky they felt like lamb leather. Other calfskin articles, from Victoria or Tanneries Roux, or in lamb leather from Richard, resemble deerskin, with the incomparable grain and softness typical of the latter. Meanwhile, the deer leather from Bonaudo is difficult to categorise, mutated into strange scaly animals, like something out of mythology. While it does not keep its characteristic grain, the goat leather from Devinconcia could easily pass for lamb leather, due to its remarkable softness. As for the bovine flesh splits from Gruppo Mastrotto, they do not mind the scales that have been added to them using a heat-embossing technique.
Calfskin like deer from Victoria Lamb like deer leather Bovine split embossed with scales
from the Richard tannery from Gruppo Mastrotto
A weighty advantage
Typically synonymous with quality, heavy leathers bring consistency to products. Masoni offer a range of products in this style that are very popular with luxury leather goods labels, while Opéra, which is a flesh split specialist, has nevertheless launched a full grain calf product that is 2.6mm thick. And the tannery Richard has refined a thicker lamb leather (1.1 mm), that is more covered and firmer, ideal for the luxury sneaker market. But a heavy leather does not only have advantages. Just ask women who, in addition to the weight of their personal belongings have to bear the weight of their voluminous bags on their shoulders or in their hands. In a show of pragmatism and solidarity, Marie Carriat from the Rémy Carriat tannery, has developed a line of lighter bull leathers (0.8 to 1.0 mm) that still maintain the advantage of their large surface area for the cutting out.
Full grain calf leather from Opéra Thick lamb leather with a finish Slimmer, lighter young bull leather
from the Richard tannery from tanneries Rémy Carriat
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