All of pampeano’s luxury leather goods are handcrafted with genuine top-grain Argentine cow leather, which has undergone a vegetable tanning process to ensure durability, comfort, and reliability. But what exactly does this tanning process entail? This blog post is all about the traditional ancient tanning technique passed down through the generations by the tanners of La Pampa, Argentina, where pampeano’s leathers are made.
The use of leather goes back to ancient times, when it was used for armour, boots, bags, sandals, boats; and most things we still use leather for today. Back then, tanning was seen as an odiferous trade, usually relegated to the outskirts of town. This can be understood, as leather was tanned with unpleasant substances such as fat and urine, unlike the vegetable tanning which pampeano’s leathers receive. These days leatherwork is seen as a skilled trade, and a mark of ancient craftsmanship we that must hang on to in the modern world.
The leather for our products is handpicked by our artisans, living and working in the La Pampa region. They travel around La Pampa, going to a selection of the best local tanneries in the area. These tanneries are traditional family run businesses, specialising in natural processes and high quality goods. They use traditional methods and ancient recipes to put their hides through a very particular tanning process. The process involves meticulous and skilled work and can take up to 60 days to complete. The hides, after being unhaired, degreased, and desalted, are added to the leather tanning drums along with bark and plants from the local area. This process has remained largely unchanged for several centuries. The finish this process produces is of the highest quality, with a soft, supple texture which lasts for many years.
There are many advantages to using vegetable tanning rather than mass-produced chemical dyes. Firstly, pampeano’s artisans can work on a single piece for five or six hours; prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals can be harmful, whereas our vegetable tanning is completely harmless. Likewise, it is safer for the customer, meaning that wearers need not worry about toxic chemicals rubbing off on their skin. Leather tanned using the vegetable tanning process undoubtedly creates a higher quality of product, from the aesthetic finish to the quality of the leather itself, but it also creates a product which smells fantastic. Leather is famously aromatic and there’s no better smell than the fresh, natural aroma of vegetable tanned leather. The entire process is much more natural than the artificial chemicals of the mass-produced cheap leather goods; it is simply better for the environment.
We actually use different types of leather depending on the needs of the product.
Our smaller leather accessories - that is, wallets and purses and so forth - are made from pebble-grain leather; this leather is soft and thinner for ease of use and flexibility, while remaining durable enough to remain functional (and fashionable) for many years. Our iconic polo belts are made of thicker leather which is smooth and sturdy; perfect for its intended use.
Once the leather is chosen by pampeano’s artisans, they take it back to the workshop and begin work. In the case of polo belts, they are cut into strips, according to the size of the belt. They are then stamped with the outline of our iconic pampa diamond motif. Next comes the holes, punched to size, and the antique brass buckle fitted. Now the real hard work begins; hand stitching using the traditional method of needle and thread. It can take several hours to stitch the intricate patterns using high density waxed saddlery threads. The supple and butter-soft quality of the leather not only makes it more comfortable for the user of the product, but also for the craftspeople themselves as they hand stitch them together. Once the belt is finished, it is sent to the UK for packaging and shipping worldwide to the door of the customer.
We hope you enjoyed this look at the journey of our products, from leather to your doorstep. Take a look at our range of iconic polo belts here.