In the luxury leather goods world, tanning crocodile leather is an extremely intensive exercise. The tannery that supplies our premium grade leathers have been in the business for more than a century and is now owned by a European conglomerate.
Salted raw hides. Raw hides are firstly salted to preserve it. They can be stored for many years in a cooling room. The salted raw hides also come with their CITES permit number tags.
Tanning process. Tanning is a process that allows the raw hide to be ready for crafting accessories. It converts the raw hide into leather; it preserves the leather so it stops decomposing. Oils are added to also soften the hide. The result of the tanning process is 'crust'.
Grading process. The crusts are graded for size and quality.
Dyeing process. It depends on the required colour, the crust will either be bleached further to allow colour dye to be applied uniformly throughout or the crust can be dyed with a colour straight away. Where the crust is dyed with a colour immediately, you can see the effects of the himalayan crocodile leather (notes below). Leathers are left in the drum for dyeing for days and up to weeks depending on required colour.
Once they leave the drum, the leathers are left in the baking oven to dry for approximately 24 hours.
The dyeing process involves heavy use of water and results in a lot of waste. The tannery we partner with uses sustainable technology that allows them to recyle and purify water to be refed into their dyeing system again. The water that is recycled and purified is said to be drinkable too!
Grading process. The leathers are again graded for size and quality. Sometimes, imperfection are seen more visible post-dyeing process.
Finishing process. Once the leather is dyed with the required colour, the finishing process seals the leather to protect it from water, sunlight and other wear factors. The finishing process is proprietary to this over-a-century-year-old tannery.
You can see the different finishes of the Nile crocodile leather below; matte and polished. The polished finish is achieved by repetitive strokes of polish by agate stone, maintaining its natural state of the leather. This is contrary from patent leather where heated press is applied with some form of plastic.
Himalayan leather finishing.
One of the most-sought after finishing is the Himalayan leather finishing. Its name originates from the beauty of the Himalayas mountains where you can see snowy regions. This finishing is valuable and sought-after because only higher graded crocodile leathers can be used.
In this finish, the leather is almost at its rarest and barest state. It is also the least processed; any blemishes or scratches cannot be masked with further processes. These are the reasons why this finish is highly valuable, and often cost more than the other finishing.
Purchasing an investment piece sometimes requires some homework of your own. Shopping for genuine crocodile leather articles can sometimes be daunting because you're spending a few thousand dollars on a bag.
Here are some tips on how to spot the difference between genuine and fake crocodile leather.