Our main range of Cheshire & Wain collars use Italian leather because of its inherent quality, durability, beauty, and variety. But what makes our leather collars so unique? In this short article, I'll be speaking with Chiara, our expert collarsmith, and native of a small mountain town in Italy called Capracotta to explore the leather we use and how it varies across our different ranges.
SF: Italy has a global reputation for making the best quality leather. Why do you think that is?
CC: Italy has been making leather for generations and takes great pride in producing quality materials for luxury brands worldwide. Since the Etruscans and Romans, the process of tanning has developed and evolved apace with the needs of its consumers within this territory, with modern tanneries being the driving force for more effective and sustainable tanning and production.
With leather being a by-product of the meat industry, the quality of leather begins with how the animal is treated from the very beginning. All stages of the process are looked after with care and attention to produce a superior material, which continues to the final product - a Cheshire & Wain leather cat collar.
SF: Is all Italian leather good quality?
It is important to note that 'Italian leather' is a catch-all term, often used as a marketing ploy by Italian tanneries that produce lesser quality leather for larger leather markets. For this reason, we only work with accredited tanneries that adhere to Italy's strict regulations and environmental quotas, which help maintain and uphold their unparalleled reputation.
SF: Why do we use different types of leather in our ranges?
CC: The simple answer is so we can address our customer's cat's varied wants and needs! Every cat is different, and like personality varies from feline to feline, so do their needs for a collar. Some cats are adventurous and require a collar with natural conditioning qualities, whereas others are happy to curl up at home and put their attire through less rigorous wear. Next it comes down to personal preference in terms of colour or finish, we have lots of collars to choose from, sometimes it can be hard to decide! But we are always on hand to offer advice.
SF: It's been a process, hasn't it? Over the years, we've listened to our customers' comments, and they have been fundamental in helping us determine the most suitable leathers for our different collar collections. Can you tell us more about the different leathers we use?
CC: In essence, our collars are divided into two main upper leather categories: vegetable tanned and coated leathers. In addition to this, the Colour-Pop range is lined with vegetable tanned leather and our other collections (apart from Lumino Lux) have Italian suede lining.
SF: Can you explain how vegetable-tanned leather is made? What makes it unique for those that don't know?
CC: The process of vegetable tanning is specialised and lengthy, using a combination of tannins from organic matter to create the perfect colours and physical properties associated with vegetable-tanned leather. One of the attributes of vegetable-tanned leathers is that over time, oils used in the tanning process rise to the surface, creating a patina and natural preservative which gives more body and character to the material with wear. The natural oils in a cat's coat condition the leather over time which softens the material's texture. It is a feature that leather connoisseurs seek when buying leather goods, and many see these signs of wear as a badge of quality.
Our Heritage Collections adopt this transformation and make it one of their key features, which lends itself to the more traditional aesthetic of this range. Vegetable-tanned leather is also the ideal choice for ensuring a deep and even embossing pattern for our Caviar Collection, which has a texture applied to the surface known as 'Beluga Grain'.
SF: And what about the coated leathers? How do these vary?
CC: Through the years, we have learned that the vegetable-tanned leathers may not lend themselves to our more trend-driven collections that comprise paler or punchier colours. For this, we turn to coated Italian leathers, which allow us to incorporate a broader range of colours that will stand the test of time through any adventures your feline friends undertake. The coating sits on the surface of the leather giving the appearance of a slight sheen or, in our Louis Wain range, a rubberised effect.
SF: That makes sense! Whilst we strive for nothing more than the loyalty of a returning customer, we want this to be because they are impressed by the quality and safety of our collars, not because they have lost their colour too quickly.
CC: That's right; regardless of the type, all our leather collars share an assurance that they are made using the highest quality materials, sourced from accredited suppliers that share the same values in product quality and customer satisfaction that we do! We can also personalise most of our smooth leather collars which allows us to make them even more special.
SF: And what about customers that choose not to buy leather products for themselves or their cat?
CC: We have a vegan friendly range for those that don't like leather! Our Lumino Lux reflective cat collars are made from woven polyamide with a faux suede microfibre lining. The glue is also plant based!