One of the most intriguing factors in the fashion world is being able to take a look at how styles changed and evolved over time, and which of those changes or original styles were born out of necessity or tradition, and which have taken on lives of their own in the fashion world for the sake of look or design. While the styles that are worn today, whether everyday wear for the average American or the high fashion of the catwalk, vary greatly from styles worn hundreds or thousands of years ago, there are still staples of the fashion industry that you can find in styles throughout the ages.
Fine leather goods from ancient times to today
One material that has been able to stand the test of time is leather. From its basic beginnings that came from using as much of an animal as possible after a hunt, animal hides were transformed into leather, and it soon became a go-to material for many different things. Eventually the evolution of the material and its many uses led to the wide variety of fine leather goods we have today. While the early peoples who first started to use animal hides to create leather products would probably not quite understand or recognize leather briefcases or leather keychains, chances are that they would be able to identify the material, the constant in an ever-evolving industry.
Looking all the way back to the Roman Empire, leather was already being developed for several different uses. It was used to create the sails of boats, most notably, but there were many other applications as well. It was not uncommon to see leather furniture and tents, as well as body armor and weapons that were made of leather. About 1,000 years after that, fine leather goods could be found in the fashion that many Egyptian women chose to wear. Fast forward to the 1900s, and you will see a number of different influences on the leather fashion trends, from General Patton’s aviator jacket during World War II to the easily recognizable black jacket sported by James Dean, to multiple European designers of the 1980s, including Versace, Armani, and Gucci, to name just a few.
The basics of leather manufacturing
From leather belts and bags to satchels, shoes, and more, there are plenty of options to choose from. But what is the process that occurs to make such desirable products? The process of manufacturing leather, from animal rawhide to ready to use leather, can be described and categorized into three main or general steps, though there is quite a few additional and intricate steps that occur as a part of each of those three. The three main steps are the preparatory stages, tanning, and crusting. Some experts add a fourth step, which is adding surface coating. Once leather has reached the final stage, it can be categorized into one of four groups. These are top grain, full grain, split leather, and corrected grain. You will find that most of the leather products that you encounter for clothing and accessories are either full grain or top grain, as those are the categories of higher quality.
Proper care of fine leather goods
Most people are aware that leather products require special care. Leather can often quickly absorb oil or grease, so it is crucial to always handle it with clean hands, and to clean it at least every six months in order to protect and condition it. It can very easily be soiled or develop water spots, so this cleaning is necessary. It is also important to consider the conditions and environment where the leather products will be used, stored, or displayed. Low relative humidities, such as those below 40%, can degrade the fibrous structure of the material to the point that it cannot be restored. If you are going to spend the money on fine, genuine leather goods, be sure you will be able to properly care for them as well.
03 Aug 2016