Few understand the importance of the animal parts used in the production of leather products in regards to both the type of product that you intend to buy as well as the leather used to make it.
We must first focus on the type of leather in question. Different considerations apply when we use classic skins such as calfskin versus exotic skins such as alligator, python or iguana.
In the case of the calf, an initial assessment should be made on the quality of leather used: whether it’s full-grain rather than crust, or whether it’s first choice, second choice or even lower grades.
Casanova1948 only uses first choice whole or half natural calfskins from calves found in the Alps and bred in the wild or semi-stable. This is because they provide an elastic, soft, breathable grain of the utmost quality.
The leather may be soft, semi-soft or semi-rigid skin (depending on its intended use), and they may be drum dyed, finished with aniline or semi-aniline dyes, or even chrome tanned with vegetable tannins; they are almost always waterproof.
SOFT-GRAIN Pebbled Calfskin
SAFFIANO Printed Calfskin
Smooth Calfskin BOX Leather
Saffiano printed soft leather: medium grain
Saffiano printed soft leather: small grain
A distinctive feature of some accessory collections is the use of soft leather naturally or gently sanded, such as Saffiano leather, with a medium or small grain according to the desired look. More specifically, in the realization of belts and bags larger grain is used to enhance and enrich the full-grain. Conversely, a fine grain may be used on small leather products, resulting in a more delicate design.
On the other hand, products made with smooth leathers can come in many varieties such as: first grade, soft, and elastic leathers, or even colored leathers that range from the most traditional to the seasonal color options.
The exotic skins come in two main cuts:
• Front Cut (the cut is through the belly and the back remains intact): certainly less common, used on ground or water snakes, as well as lizards, iguanas, monitors and some fish and mammals. The front cut changes from animal to animal and this difference becomes all the more evident as the scale and skin patterns change and as the texture of the skins change in certain species.
• Back Cut (the cut is through the back and the belly remains intact): often used on snakes and pythons, the back cut shows off the distinctive scale pattern in the center of the belly (the part that says in contact with the ground when animal crawls).
ALLIGATOR and CROCODILE
In the case of alligators or crocodiles it is possible to use the whole animal, creating a seamless product that retains the distinctive pattern of the animal and its particular characteristics, starting from the head and ending at the beginning of the tail. This results in a high implementation cost. Often, to keep costs down, but also for aesthetic choices, you can also use the sides, spine or tail.
Full Belly Alligator / Crocodile (the belly is fully preserved)
Alligator belly fully preserved
The use of the stomach and surrounding areas is common in the production of luxury wallets and seamless belts for the more astute clientele.
It requires the utilization of the entire surface area of the animal belly to realize this article, especially in the cases of belts and bags. It also generates a large amount of wasted product that cannot be subsequently used.
Products created in this way typically have a pattern that varies with the natural change of the reptile skin while preserving its consistency and naturally occurring characteristics unique to that animal. The only drawback is the cost of the final product, which will be several thousand euro due to the large amount of wasted material.
Alligator / Crocodile Full Hornback (the back is fully preserved)
Alligator hornback fully preserved
Less frequent but no less valuable is the use of the full hornback, or the rigid portion of skin that runs along the back of crocodiles, alligators and caimans, starting immediately behind the head and ending at the tail.
It is composed of four rows of osteoderms, or bony plates, on top of which lies the dermis, serving as a protective armor for the animal.
If you’re looking for a highly textured leather product that is sure to create a visual effect and draw attention, an accessory made in hornback is certainly a unique exotic leather option.
Alligator / Crocodile Flanks
The use of the crocodile’s flanks (or sides) makes it possible to create a high quality product with a homogeneous round grain of varying sizes without the use of splices for those pieces up to about 100cm in length; when using longer lengths it becomes necessary to splice together two different sides, and this is where the skill, experience and artwork of the craftsman himself comes into play. A master craftsman is able to splice the two flanks together only minimally modifying the original surface of the reptile.
We manufacture products in full skin, for those who are able to spend larger sums of money due to the high cost of raw materials, as well as products made with first choice crocodile flanks. With the utmost precision, we meticulously apply any eventual splices on these flank products if deemed necessary, and fully inform the client about product details such as these, so that each individual product may be fully appreciated for its characteristic features and handiwork.
Alligator / Crocodile Tail
Although not as common due to the limited availability, we also produce belts and wallets with crocodile tail, the cost of which is comparable to the flanks but for completely different reason. Some customers prefer crocodile tail as its skin pattern is composed of rectangular shapes that are consistent in size and dimension.
The tail, due to its inherent structure, can only be specially processed with horizontal splicing, which gives the leather a very unique aspect and enhances the final look of the product.
Front Cut and Back Cut
The actual cut of the python plays an important role when choosing the correct piece to be used for the final product. The two main cuts are Back-cut (Cut through the back lengthwise – the belly remains intact) and Front-cut (Cut through the front lengthwise – the back remains intact) ; however, it is the eventual utilization and application of these pieces that determines the value of your product. For example, a certain product may result in a large amount of unused/discarded material. Another determining factor may be the presence of one or more splices (pieces being stitched together).
The skins of the Python Molurus or Python Reticulatus must be cut lengthwise to avoid the occurrence of many splices. When looking at the back cut (the cut in which the belly remains intact) we can choose to use either the side flanks or the central cut.
Python: Back Cut
Python: Front Cut
Rock Matte Python Belts; from top : upper side lateral cut, central cut (full pattern), lower side lateral cut
The central cut is typically used because the scale pattern towards the centerline of the belly is much wider. This occurs naturally throughout the course of the snake’s lifespan because it is, of course, this central section that stays in contact with and drags along the ground. Only a couple of belts can be made with a central cut.
It should be noted that these single-piece belts have a far greater value than a belt made with two or more separate pieces.
In the case of small leather goods, we use a single piece of python skin whenever possible in the construction of a wallet or clutch, therefore enhancing the quality and inherent characteristics of the product.
Some products are made with diagonal cuts of the python skin. The craftsman uses the back cut of the python (the cut in which the belly remains intact) and cuts the skin diagonally into small strips. These strips are then carefully placed side by side, creating a pattern that differs from the python’s natural skin pattern but can be especially pleasing in certain colors. Although it requires more processing, the final product is still more cost-effective since it results in a lower amount of discarded skin.
IGUANA / LIZARD (Front Cut and Back Cut)
The lizard and other similar species such as the monitor, iguana and tejus, are smaller in size when compared to other reptiles and with single-piece cuts can be used to make watch straps, wallets, and small clutches. On the other hand, belts and purses, and medium/large-sized leather goods require the use of spliced pieces.
Articles made of lizard skin are often composed of diagonally cut pieces carefully hand-stitched together with a trained eye. The beauty of the product comes in the uniformity of these seems. While the seems themselves can only be noticed by a very thorough examination, the repeating pattern that results is as consistent as possible throughout the belt, bag or shoe.
While smaller products may be made with a one-piece designs, bags and shoes require the use of more than one piece of leather. In this case the choice of leather also plays a particularly important role since two skins must be used that are not perfectly equal. Therefore, it is up to the craftsman to identify the skins that are most similar to avoid any notable texture differences in the finished product.
Because of its particularly rigid texture, even after being treated, stingray leather requires a great deal of expertise and specialization when being worked with. Very few artisans possess the adequate craftsmanship and skill needed for creating high-quality stingray products.
The ability to work with this fantastic skin (called Galuchat, named after the inventor of this method) lies in the preservation of its uniform “mosaic surface and bringing out the diamond-shaped pearls (called “eyes”), a distinctive trait of the stingray on the dorsal side.
In the realization of products made in stingray leather, the stitch work plays a truly fundamental role. Furthermore, it requires a very high level of expertise due to its difficult surface texture as well as the use of special machines to form these seams. In addition to its remarkable characteristic features described above, the true beauty of these products lies in the fact that no two animals have the same coloration or diamond-shaped “eye.” As you can imagine the final product of such a rare display of leather and craftsmanship will be distinctly unique.
OSTRICH (Front Cut)
Only the front cut of the ostrich is valuable, as the back is the only part of the animal covered by its characteristic follicles (the junction points where the feathers enter skin). These follicles, the shape of which is often described as diamonds or pearls, create a distinctive, bumpy texture that is both unique and inimitable.
Splicing is not required in the realization of small leather goods in ostrich leather since we only use single-piece skins, the cost of which is much higher (second only to alligator or crocodile). If the article is particularly long, it is necessary to make a single seam in order to maintain its diamond-textured structure. For example, this is the case for belts with a waist measurement of over 90cm, even with diagonal cuts (which exploits the majority of useable surface). Consequently, this method results in a large amount of product waste in the process.
In the case of bags or shoes the main objective is to maintain the original macular pattern, albeit with obvious constraints due to stitching separate pieces together in order to construct the article.