Q.What does vegetable-tanned mean?
A. Vegetable tanning is a traditional method that was refined by the Italians, Spanish and French during the Renaissance. Only 10% of leather worldwide is made using this natural process, as it is more time-consuming to produce and relies on experienced craftsmen to create the vegetable-tanned leather.
DeSeay uses hides that are tanned with the natural tannins of wattle tree bark. Only a few tanneries have the capacity, skill and patience to produce vegetable tanned leather but the end result is environmentally friendly and each piece of leather is unique. Vegetable tanned leather changes continuously over time as it develops a patina, much like a tree darkens in the sun.
Q.Do you ever use “soft” leather?
A. The “soft” leather that many people know is a product of chrome tanning. Chrome tanning uses synthetic chemicals (mainly chromium) to tan the leather in only one day. Most of the world’s leather is made using this method, which was invented in the 19th Century to allow for the mass production of leather goods. DeSeay only uses vegetable tanned leather for its longevity and environmental friendliness.
Q. Where does your leather come from?
A. DeSeay sources its hides from a family owned tannery in ZwaZulu Natal that is over a century old. Their age old tanning recipes produce hides of superior quality.
Q. What’s the difference between hand-stitched and machine stitched?
A. Simply put – strength. If one thread wears or breaks on a machine stitched bag, the whole thing will unravel. Hand-stitching creates an intricate helix of thread which means that even if one of the threads is compromised, your bag will still be held together by the other one. Hand-stitching is very time consuming and is part of why hand-stitched bags are more expensive than those that are machined. Interestingly enough, at one point in history, Gucci outsourced bag labour to Asia, replacing hand-stitching with machining. A rapid decline in quality caused them to bring their facilities back to Italy where the bags are handmade to this day.
Q. What’s up with the term “handcrafted”?
A. These days “handmade”, “handcrafted” and various other nomenclature have saturated the market making it difficult to know what the merit of “handcrafted” actually is. What it means for us is that every single DeSeay piece is made with the utmost care and precision. Like a recipe for a very elaborate cake, there are many steps and each one must be executed carefully in order to achieve the best product possible – and the process is completed by hand, not machine. No two bags will ever be exactly the same but they will always embody the highest level care and attention to detail possible.