Category Archives: Leathers

Back to Bologna

Next week we’ll be headed back to Bologna to attend Lineapelle.  We go over every October to show what we’ve been working on over the past year.  We’ll be in Hall 22, at our agents booth (Brizzi Agenzie).

In the past we’ve been able to catch up with customers and friends alike.  This year, we will sadly miss seeing our friend, the artisan, Stefano Bemer, who passed away earlier this year.


Filed under Leathers, Products, Visits


During the the first half of the 1940’s our factory was busy doing what many factories in the U.S. were doing – supplying goods and materials for use by our troops.  For us, that quite obviously meant leather.  We supplied two main leather types during this time; Mechanical leather and Chromexcel.

Mechanical leather is a specialized, dense, and extremely durable tannage utilized to make hydraulic and pneumatic seals and packings.  C.W. Marsh is one of our oldest customers, and we supplied them (and other manufacturers) with leather that was used for many applications, including vehicles.  While “leather is better,” this industry has largely moved into the realm of synthetics.

Photo by Ralph Morse – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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Filed under History, Leathers

Essex and Dublin

One of the challenges for us as tanners is to keep coming up with “new” leathers.  When we’re developing a leather it is usually because there is a customer that is asking for something specific.  Typically, the resulting leather ends up being a variation of an existing leather that has been designed and tanned to meet certain aesthetic and performance characteristics.  These demands change all the time and range widely – a leather needs to change to be waterproof, cementable, breathable, stronger, burnishable, softer, firmer, shinier, duller – the list goes on and the combinations are endless.

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Filed under Leathers, Products

A Century of Partnership

A special thank you to Allen Edmonds and Paul Grangaard for the kind words and taking the time to make the video.

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Filed under 101, History, Leathers, Media, Video

By Request – What’s the Difference?

In a post a while back I asked if there were any topics that anyone wanted some more information on.  Jason and Chris specifically commented that they wanted to hear more about Aero and/or their horsehide jackets.  I’m going to try to deliver info on what seems to be a major distinguishing factor for many people in terms of leather jackets – horsehide or cowhide?  This is also an appropriate time to explain the differences between the other types of hides that we process.

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Filed under 101, Leathers


Leather International Magazine 


Return to the Roots

First published in September 2010
Published:  04 October, 2010


I would like to introduce myself as a leather technician, owner and co-owner of tanning companies Heller-Leder, Helcor-Leder-tec and Südleder. Outside of my daily business activities I am also president of the German Leather Industry Association (Verband der deutschen Lederindustrie) and of the ‘German Leather Development Group’ (Forschungsgemeinschaft Leder).

It is no wonder that I am very fond of leather and its image as both my parents’ family histories are connected to the leather business, meaning that I am the 4th generation of my family involved in leather manufacturing.
I want you to consider the following statements:

  • Leather is a natural product
  • Leather has specific characteristics which other materials do not have or not to the same extent
  • Leather is distinctive
  • Leather is valuable
  • Leather arouses emotions

These five statements account for the image, the popularity and also the high demand for leather.
Myself, as a leather-guy and leather technician who has been dealing from childhood with this fantastic material do, however, see a huge risk to leather in the future.
During the 26 years that I have been professionally in the leather business this wonderful natural material has become more and more a product that is reduced to its technical characteristics and performance at the expense of its natural features.
The technical properties are certainly important, but should in many instances be an additional feature and rarely the main reason to use the material. To meet some technical characteristics we are in danger of destroying what really makes leather special, ie its naturalness, the outstanding touch and comfort characteristics compared to other materials, its distinctiveness and the emotions which it should arouse – and with all of that the real added value.
Why should I create a shoe lining leather that has an excellent perspiration fastness then apply a heavy finish on it to achieve good sweat rubbing fastness and thus negate the perspiration properties as the shoe is no longer able absorb the sweat? This is absurd.
Why should I use a car interior leather that cannot be differentiated with regards to comfort, feel or touch from synthetic materials? Automotive leather is now such a good technical product that it still looks brand new after five years while the car exterior shows its age. The natural look and touch is gone before being fitted in the car. It’s more plastic than leather.
Why should I buy a piece of furniture covered with leather that is resistant against all kinds of dirt and stains yet feels cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Leaving you sweating on it like sitting on piece of plastic foil? So much finish is applied that the natural appearance and handle is lost.
Why should I have an object made out of leather that has been stripped of everything that might be a sign of its naturalness such as hair pores, healed hedge cuts and bruises? The visual difference with synthetic materials has become blurred or lost (the differences in comfort and feel we have ‘killed’ by making the material meet ever more demanding technical specifications).
If this trend of viewing leather more and more as a technical product and no longer as a natural product with all its associated advantages but also with some disadvantages in order to maintain the naturalness, then we are running the risk of downgrading leather to the level of artificial materials.
In my opinion we are already going too far as the difference, depending on the leather type, in technical properties, is making leather difficult to distinguish, even for the experts, compared with synthetics!
Leather, once this happens, due to its premium price (hidden below huge amounts of finish in order to achieve the technical requirements) will increasingly lose more market share against other cheaper materials because nobody will recognise its value and, therefore, why should anyone pay more for it? Many hides simply don’t need to be corrected or buffed and can be processed with a natural grain intact. Natural leather is a premium material and can command higher prices. We should allow the leathers natural characteristics to show themselves.
Therefore, my appeal to you is to try new ways by returning to old values, which our customers in the North American furniture industry have done so successfully. Approximately 25 years ago ca. 90% of all leather used looked rather like a plastic cover but, today, aniline leather is now resurgent with all its advantages and also the few disadvantages …what a change!
Let’s try!

Thomas Strebost

Taken from LEATHER INTERNATIONAL, the link to the website and original article can be found here:

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Filed under 101, Leathers, Media


Chromexcel.  One of my favorites, and probably my single favorite if I had to choose one.  The picture above gives some idea of how long the formula has been around (and this journal is full of different trials and doesn’t even contain the original, standardized recipe).  Whether because it’s right, or because we’re just terribly stubborn, we’ve left the processes and formulas for many of our leathers largely unchanged.  We have had to substitute some of the components that were traditionally used in small quantities – whale oil was replaced with another marine-creature derived oil, one that’s more available and not controversial.

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Filed under 101, History, Leathers, Products

Cavalier Chromexcel

By request, an informative post regarding Chromexcel is forthcoming.  As a lead in, an introduction – Cavalier Chromexcel (and, yes, we make it in browns and black as well).  Check back in the coming weeks for a more comprehensive posting.  For comparison, the green loafer is our shell cordovan.

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Filed under Leathers, Products