We all have more questions when discovering someone who can help us achieve the leather product we desire. Let's share our vision by mixing an essay and a self-interview.
Can the rise of new artisans still compete in the luxury world dominated by conglomerate groups?
Prior to the pandemic, and accelerated during it, many people wanted to start a craft. It resulted in a tsunami of Sourdough bread on social media. Although many came back to their regular 9-5, either remotely or on site, a few kept this idea to run their hobby from 5-9, to turn their hobby into a small business, and keep it growing, so maybe one day they can transition. A safe bet is to move slowly, at least financially. The ghosting rate by employers on candidates reaches up to 20% from the Job bank Indeed. Still, not a good idea, to start a Solo adventure, if like most of us after those two years are cash dry.
Can a hobbyist turn into a craftsman, into an artisan? How long to reach the level to be considered to be amongst its peers?
Personally, I was moulded into the culinary and Hospitality management fields from High-School to License/Master, managed, opened, and lifted up Hotels, restaurants and properties. All which make me a professional in my field, and an expert in some fields, it does not apply in the Leather goods industry.
A Latin phrase says “Sutor, ne supra crepidam” meaning literally "Shoemaker, not beyond the shoe", used to warn people to avoid passing judgement beyond their expertise. And that’s why I didn’t step over when meeting Saddle Masters, Leathercraft artisans, and Master Cobblers. If you are lucky to have their precious time, you come with the right questions where the answers will correct future bad habits and force you to strive for excellence.
When you learn a craft the proper way, you know, while learning another, that humility, long studying, and not cutting corners are all part of the deal. From a master in your craft, you are back as an apprentice in a new one. The only skills you can bring from one craft to another are patience and a desire for precision.
Leathercraft started as a necessity for my other passion, winter camping in Canada. I needed to build harnesses for my dogs and Pulka to go across the East Coast Maritime forests. And slowly a passion for the medium happened, like the same in pastry or cooking, less the diet management. It also takes deep thinking for a product you craft so it can last through years, maybe even generations, and most importantly to be able to be repaired
But does it make the quality better for the consumer?
Well I think so, when the level is achieved, the artisan who doesn’t worry about money will spend more time on your product. Efficiency is driven by quality not cost control, no cutting corners to save dimes and nickels to make the profit at year end. So the Consumer is winning, can even have a real bespoke experience by talking his preference choice to the Artisan; try to dictate to Hermes or Louis Vuitton. It is possible, but maybe look for a mortgage. Also as it is Bespoke leather good made for you, when you select the thread color, the leather style and weight, it becomes a good ,made in Tango, and be easily called “our Leather good” and turned into a heirloom to be passed on, repaired and passed on again.
Is a previous industry experience a benefit for new leather Artisans?
As Horse blind can help to achieve specific time, it could miss the era of time, lacking in many other areas. How many true artisans are great in their trade, but cannot find customers, barely known to the public? Plenty are not well diversed with marketing, social media, supply and purchase management, and packaging skills. Many details when cumulated can leave a great artisan in the dark. I worked in Luxury Hotel management where we learn to anticipate guests needs, but working in Budget Hotels was an eye opener for financial control through all accounting lines, and developing skills versatility.
So can a new Leather goods company compete against Hermes, Louis-Vuitton, Chanel?
Not in Volume or Price for sure (laugh) .
By volume first, Artisan is most of the time a single operator, being the Jack of all trades. Time is their constraint, there are only so many hours in a day; a machine investment is carefully examined, from the time saved to the effect on the quality. Some machines like a clicker press will improve things, die-cut will guarantee a perfect cut each time, a sewing machine will save hours, but it is impossible to reproduce the saddle stitch. If a piece of thread breaks, the saddle stitch will stop it from fraying further, and is easy to repair. It is not as easy with a sewing machine stitch, you can pull up the entire stitched line within two shakes of a lamb’s tail.
By price, a true Artisan hates the idea of overcharging its patrons, as he wants them to return. There is no play on the Veblen effect, no play on scarcity to drive up the price, to create a sentiment of investment, paying for the brand value and awareness. Simply a fair price at the labourers’ effort, where all parties are delighted about it knowing they participate in perpetuating a skill-trade.
So an Artisan can compete with quality and customer experience. He can crawl back the suppliers chains and find suppliers used by those big brands (maybe that’s why those brands try to purchase their own suppliers for a vertical integration). He sure cannot have a “boutique” on Fifth avenue, Savile Row, or rue Faubourg Saint-honoré, but the packaging can be matched, and the customer service offered; the bespoke service can be present all along, and this can make a long lasting memory
Where to find them?
At your local marketplace, ask on a facebook group about crafters, and google business, or here at wagramleather.com. As said previously, the marketing is not their forté, so you need to find them instead to have Luxury brands pushed towards you.
How to recognize a good artisan?
Well, if you can see the product, look at the edge. It takes a lot of time to finish edges, we do it to protect leather from humidity. It is easy to simply cut it, leave a fake style (raw or steampunk) cutting the product time by 30-40%, but it should be at least burnished with bee’s wax at the bare minimum, and edge painting can take more time, more if you have a glazy effect.
The Leather quality is “full grain”, “top grain” or “corrected grain” at least. For your information “genuine is the part closer to the muscle and not the outside environment, not resistant to tears. So you will know it will not last.
That will be a good start. In order to distinguish from handmade and low-cost factory leather goods, look at the stitching, no threads are pulled, the size of the thread varies from 0.2 to 0.8, with a regular gauge at 0.55mm.
The portfolio is limited but diverse meaning you can count around 20 different products with variations in styles and leather, and you can identify a specialty with this Artisan. We rarely make the full spectrum of leather goods on the market available.
What can I expect from a Leather bespoke experience?
At least a good conversation, and not being in a rush! Look at the Artisan Portfolio, like here https://www.wagramleather.com/accessories. You can see the strength and the limits of the Artisan. Come with a good idea and if you have it drafted on a piece of paper, it is even better. Lots of questions will follow, from the type and color of leather to additional features of the item requested… The project will not start until we share the same vision, we have to be looking in the same direction for it to work.
Who is requesting services at Wagram Leather?
From dog lovers, to people who want something that will last, but mostly high-end corporate gifts or diplomatic gift exchange, when the goods need to carry a meaning, a story and are conversation starters.
Do you think leather can blend with Technology?
Oh yes, our Spycraft collection is the proof, but I will add a footnote on it. The technology is growing so fast, finding a futureproof, maintenance proof technology is harder. It limits us but forces us to reposition some technology used in different industry sectors.
What are the differences with Hand Saddle Stitching vs Sewing Machine Stitches?
Hand Saddle Stitching vs Sewing Machine Stitches: The Advantage of Durability and Security
Hand saddle stitching is a traditional method of sewing leather goods, favored by artisans and leather workers for its durability and precision. In comparison, sewing machine stitches are widely used in mass production for their speed and ease of use. However, hand saddle stitching has a clear advantage over machine stitches when it comes to durability and security.
The hand saddle stitch is created using two needles that are passed through the leather from opposite sides, forming a lock stitch that is much stronger than a single-thread stitch. The stitch is also woven through the leather, making it even more secure. In case of a thread break, the hand saddle stitch also stops the thread from running away, maintaining the integrity of the stitch and the leather goods.
On the other hand, sewing machine stitches are made with a single needle and bobbin thread, creating a lock stitch that is not as strong as the hand saddle stitch. Over time, machine stitches can come undone or break under stress, causing the leather goods to fall apart.
Hand saddle stitching also provides a level of precision that is difficult to achieve with a machine. Artisans and leather workers who specialize in hand saddle stitching have years of experience and training, allowing them to create precise and consistent stitches. This level of precision is not possible with a machine, leading to uneven or inconsistent stitches that can weaken the leather goods over time.
In conclusion, hand saddle stitching is the preferred method of stitching leather goods due to its durability, security, and precision. While machine stitches may be faster and easier, they cannot match the strength and consistency of hand saddle stitching. If you are looking for a long-lasting and high-quality leather product, look for goods that are hand saddle stitched by experienced artisans and leather workers.