The Fall season is upon us and our workshop is humming with activity as we produce our new line of items. When it comes to crafting leather goods, one of the most important things is, of course, the leather. Quality leather makes a big difference between a bag that will last you a year, and one that will last a lifetime. We spare no expense on our leathers and are extremely proud of the product. So check out the pictures below to learn about the 15,000+ decimeters of delicious Coffee leather and the 8,000+ decimeters of warm Mahogany leather currently being used in our workshop to make brand new bags for all our favorite people.
Full Grain Leather, All Day.
There are a few interesting things to note with the leather we use in the construction of all of the Intrepid Bag Co.'s products. Our leather is a thick, high quality, full grain leather tanned with high grade oils to preserve the leather and protect it. Full grain leather is the best leather money can buy, and it ages beautifully with use. As you use the leather, the oils from your hands rub off on the leather naturally burnishing it. The more you handle the leather, the more unique it gets as it ages with you and takes on a unique patina all its own. Perhaps only 2% of leather bags on the market use genuine full grain leather like ours. It is expensive and difficult to work with, however it will last you a lifetime.
There are a few other kinds of leather out there- 'Top grain leather' is the second highest quality leather. It is leather that has been shaved down a bit and then sanded to remove any natural scars or marks. This technique is popular because it allows for lower quality hides to be used since the sanding and shaving process removes any blemishes. 'Genuine leather' is the third tier in terms of quality. This leather is made from whatever is left over after the top grains have been shaved off. Usually it is refinished to make it look better. It is commonly used as suede for lining bags as it is more durable than cloth but will not last long on the exterior of a bag. Lastly there is 'bonded leather' (yuck). This is essentially the press board of leather. It is the shavings and trimmings ground up, glued back together, and spray painted to look like an actual piece of leather. It is weak, degrades very quickly, and is used in many cheap bags and leather products.
Fully Tanned and Fully Dyed
Intrepid leather takes a good deal longer to produce than other leathers because we make sure it is both tanned and dyed all the way through. Tanning and dying is the process where you put oils and preservatives and color into the leather by tumbling it in gigantic tumblers for hours and hours. By doing this you prevent cracking, dryness, and degradation over time. However, this takes a long time. Our leather is tanned for anywhere from 10-20 hours to insure it is tanned 100% of the way through, and our tannery uses high-grade hypo-allergenic oils and preservatives to ensure premium results.
You can see this in the closeup below. Both the front and the back of the leather are richly dyed and tanned. Also, if you look closely at the edges, you can see that the color goes all the way through, and that it is a single piece of thick latigo saddle leather.
"Why is this interesting?," you might ask. Great question! To save money, many "luxury" leather companies use inferior leather that is only tanned on the outside 10% or so, leaving the inside to dry out and crumble. Kind of like putting a shiny coat of paint on a rust bucket of a car. Sometimes that leather is then spray painted on the edges and made up of multiple pieces of thin scrap leather glued and pressed together to fool the customer.
This kind of leather is much cheaper to purchase, easier to work with, and faster to produce. However, the lifespan of that leather is, well... about as long as it takes you to leave the store and lose your receipt. Additionally, it is often made in sweat shops in India or Bangladesh where the working conditions are horrendously dangerous, the workers poorly paid, and they are treated even worse. Not with us! We make sure everything is ethically sourced.
We've found, perhaps, one of the most expensive tanneries on the planet, personally inspected the working conditions, and discovered that they also boast one of the highest ratings in terms of environmental cleanliness and worker pay. Knowing this lets us sleep soundly at night, and hopefully you too!
We are committed to making only heritage quality products with ethically sourced materials that will last a lifetime of adventure. Hence, the leather we use in our bags and products is only the best of the best of the best from the most reputable of sources.
P.S. In other news, our Journeyman Commuter bag was featured in print in the latest issue of CNET magazine! Pick up a copy wherever they sell magazines these days, and show your friends. :)