A Guide to Buying Italian Leather
Italian leather is famed across the world for being one of the highest quality materials to be produced. Manufacturing the leather and understanding the delicate processes involved is a highly-regarded craft and skill, one that many people believe, only the Italians do best. Only the most supreme hides are used and they are processed using techniques that have been passed down through generations of families for thousands of years. It is well-known that most of the leather of Italy is not mass produced in a factory, rather, it is manufactured using natural plant and vegetables extracts, by skilled artisans.
The pieces that are worked by artisans are made to last; it is highly likely that an Italian leather will have a considerably longer lifetime that its equivalent. The durability of the item means that it is likely to stand the test of time and wear and tear the item receives, can be withstood. Maintaining leather is relatively easy, a simple wipe with a damp cloth or a leather treatment once or twice a year should ensure the leather doesn’t become too dry or brittle, providing you with a timeless and sophisticated fashion statement!
There are three main categories that Italian leathers fit into, the first is industrial. Industrial leather isn’t produced by the artisans you may see while you wander the streets of the Italian towns. Instead, the hides are manufactured by medium to large sized firms across the country. These firms then distribute the finished product, which could be bags, coats or belts, amongst other items, to the shops and wholesalers. Due to the volume and demand, the quality of these items and the process used to produce the leathers, may not be of the same standard as an artisan’s product but, it still comes highly recommended and the finished product is outstanding.
The second method of producing Italian leather is by artisan producers. If you are searching for a bespoke, one of a kind, beautiful piece of leather, the type that is celebrated and world renowned, an artisan shop is where you need to go. Italy boasts a wealth of highly skilled master leather workers. The hides are carefully prepared and then expertly laboured, to create a stunning, entirely handmade piece.
The third method is luxury-branded. Luxury branded is a mix between industrial and artisan. The hides may be produced using an industrial method, but the finalised product may be completed by a skilled artisan. Alternatively, the hide may be treated in a traditional way and then the finished product would be created using a machine. Luxury-branded leather is of very high-quality and extremely well-made, the fusion of methods provides an outstanding finalised item.
How to Select a Quality Leather?
When the time comes and you’re shopping for your prized Italian leather item, there are a few top tips of what to consider which will help you get the best piece for your money. Most of these tips don’t come down to your knowledge of how the item was processed, but instead, they come from your senses.
A high-quality leather that has been treated using some of the best methods during production, is likely to have a very natural and slightly musky smell. This scent is a good sign and indicates that an excellent hide has been used to make the item. A leather product that has a chemical smell, is likely to be of much lower quality and it is for that reason that it has been treated with harsh chemicals to cover it up.
A quality leather should not feed tough or stiff to move. Instead, the leather should feel soft and smooth to touch. When you handle it, it should be supple and easily moved. The fabric should have the ability to ‘roll’.
Leather that is of a high-quality will usually be either a tan or brown colour. These shades allow the natural beauty of the material to be seen and indicates the hide has been treated in a natural way. Like the chemical smell, leather that has been dyed unnatural colours can indicate a poorer quality of hide and the added colour has been used to mask the quality. Although, this isn’t always the case and there are many high-quality leathers that have been coloured.
Will you be indulging in purchasing any leathers during your stay in our Italian villas? We would love to see some pictures of what you have brought via our social media channels!