Super soft, naturally thin (no skiving required), highly durable, marvelous smell - these were the watchwords of our selection criteria. It took a full year and many, many, many prototypes to make the final selection. Why were we so insistent upon finding a leather that meets all of these demands? It's really the way we envision these bags being used and what makes them different from other bags in the market.
Super soft. Our good friend and uber fabulous interior designer Sarah Fisher made us hyper aware of this demand a couple of years ago when we were talking at lunch with her about our cell phone case and the wearability of it on the waist. She liked the little bag but said "If a woman wears something next to her body, that something has to feel super soft. It has to call to be touched. It has to feel as if it is a feather against the skin." That comment stuck with me and served as the foundation for the choice of leather on our little sheepskin Tasca bag. It continued to be a key requirement for our next collection ... the Stretta Collection.
Naturally thin. The thickness of leather is measured in millimeters and a range is given since leather is a natural material and not uniform in thickness. Our Stretta collection bags drape the body and in order to do this, the leather they are made of must be very thin (.6-.8 mm). One can make leather thin by skiving the leather but skiving weakens the leather. This was explained to me by Manuel Luna "The Professor" on one visit to Leon. It's like a round of cheese. When you cut the netting that surrounds the cheese it just doesn't hang together like a round that has the netting still in place. The leather is a integrated whole. To skive it weakens the whole. So we wanted thin leather ... not leather made to be thin by skiving.
Highly Durable. In my mind I envision someone riding a moped through a rain storm in Thailand with their Stretta bag in tow ... and really not worried about damage to the bag. The perfect travel bag needs to be resistant to rough treatment. This is a tall requirement for a bag so soft and supple. But this Capretta leather meets that demand. Frequently used for high end riding gloves, this soft and supple leather stands the test of time. The leather has a natural lanolin which makes it water resistant as well.
Marvelous Smell. The smell of leather really comes from the way the leather is tanned. I have a great sense of smell (hearing's not so good and sometimes I forget things) but I do have a great sense of smell. Smell is incredibly important. And having worked closely with leather for the last 4 years I have come to realize there is a huge difference in the smell of different leathers. One time we bought a sample hide in the market and had a bag made out of that hide. Stupidly I didn't smell the hide to begin with. But when I did it was horrible. I ended up leaving what was not used in my hotel room .. I couldn't even bring it back in my suitcase. And the prototype made I had to leave outside for 6 months before bringing it inside. Especially the Italians have it right. After much much much much much searching we found a tannery that moved their entire operation from Italy to Mexico, and took their tanning methods with them. This Capretta leather comes from them and the smell is TO DIE FOR.
Who knew their would be so much to the making of the perfect bag?