The Cutting department The cutting by hand for a billfold in crocodile from the middle part of the skin
The logo The logo is stamped with a film (here in silver) or hot embossing
Handbags workshop Once the pieces are cut, they are ready to go to the assembly department
Small leather goods workshop Assembly of clasps wallet
The finishing The pieces are dyed and waxed
Quality Control All our products are quality controlled before being shipped to the customer
Stock of finished goods
Once you made your choice, let’s say for a bright alligator skin for example, all you have to do is to follow it in the workshop to see the precious skin, little by little being transformed into a great quality product for your pleasure and according to your wishes.
The realization of a sample looks like a music composition… It is necessary first of all to decrypt and to compose a partition before being able to play it… Very often at a distance, I have the pleasure to observe the conductors at work, (the workshop’s foremen: Albert, Dolores, Florence) their gestures, their reactions, they are lively, they seems enchanted by music and the sample becomes part of them.
I would catch them in a flying movement, carefully choosing the right tempo, only then would I submit a design or a sketch that was entrusted to me by a customer. They would get soaked in their thought for long minutes, sometimes for hours to analyse and anticipate the customer’s final wishes. Sometimes everything may seems so obvious, sometimes it’s harder and then as a magic straw, they are transformed in mathematicians calculating the right measurements to create the right patterns.
All these calculations which seem so complicated becomes so simple when explained; in fact, each and every element are twined and depends one another, the type of material chosen, the kind of finition, the final texture...
Once the pattern done, the manufacturing process can start, the atmosphere enlightens as we return to the primary steps… that of the raw material.
We enter the area dealing with the workshop “smoothing of skins”. The hammers beat continuously and omnidirecttionally, stretching the skins thoroughly to make them flat and bright. The temperature is suffocating for those who are not used to tropical heat… the skins are dried in a room where the temperature is nearly 40°C.
The cutting department supervisor Va-Sing, 15 years in the company, is pampering the skin as if it is his last one, always with such passion and in silence to hear the sound of the leather whispering to him … first, he cuts off the head and the tail before submerging the skin divided into three parts in water.
Skins are then framed, stretched and nailed on 50 years old pine boards adorned with numerous holes and nails that were left from the past, (the same used from the beginning) but left behind. Those are the same holes that lets us see the countless quantity of skins that have been worked in this workshop. Then the skins are nailed for the whole night on the boards pine until the next morning, until a delicate hand goes through them, to ensure if the humidity present in the skin have evaporated. They are then removed, split, (the thickness is removed on the total surface of the skin) before being placed in a drying cabin to dry completely.
Once dried, the skins are smoothed by a gated stone which comes to strike the crocodile’s scales to highlight their shining. All what is left is to emboss the scales, and then the skins are placed on a plate at high temperature to shrivel up, eliminating the rest of remaining moisture which will allow the scales to swell.
Once the skins are smoothed, the skins-cutters quickly prepare their different cutting tools, depending on whether the sample is cut by machine or by hand.
Perhaps, you will have the privilege to see Va-Sing cutting your own sample; his fingers dancing around the pattern with the flexibility of a gymnast and the tactfulness of a dancer. This is the stage that I prefer, the one which determines the beauty, uniformity and the final point of the sample.
The cutter must visualise the sample, imagine and dream it, as if he is endowed with this aptitude, all becomes so magical and so achievable. His job does not just consists of cutting the leather as a common piece of cloth, but instead to make it alive and to optimize the material and to place every pieces in the right place as a jigsaw puzzle.
At this very moment, you will find out if your sample will be the highest quality as per your expectation.
Once cut, the leather pieces are put through the slitting machine, and then to the finery (reduction of the thickness at the edges). Finally the gluing stage (gluing the lining and the exteriors) before passing though the assembly plant.
During the assembling process, each artisan works in an autonomous way in producing his product until the finishing process. The samples or the leather goods are then chafted, threaded and tinted before being sewed either by machine or by hand. Every sample is unique, it is impossible to produce two identical samples even if you use the same material and worked out by the same artisan.
Before the delivery of each and every article, the products have to undergo the final stage of “bichonnage” or pampering; the inspection where the artisan verifies whether the leather goods has been realised according to the proper manner and in which he is leaving in each of these coveted piece of art part of his heart…
So, you must be wondering?
What is my job? My mission is that of a merchant of dreams, in a way a dream representative, in fact, it is not a mission, it is a privilege!