Shinki Tannery in Japan has exclusive rights to purchase the best horsehides from Poland, France, and other worldwide locations because they pay a premium for these skins. They take the finest selected horsehides and tan them using a full vegetable solution of Australian mimosa with a family recipe stretching back generations. Each hide has the rear cut off for cordovan boot leather and the skins are tanned in agitation tanks for a month, dried, and cured for up to a year. This allows the skin to shrink to its maximum shrinkage and makes for very quick break-in period because the leather can stretch and shrink on the wearers body. It is vegetable tanned leather that created the characteristic leather smell associated with aficionados of great leather. Shinki horse leather is uncorrected, which allows the natural beauty of the animal skin shows through. It also means that a skilled cutter is required to cut a leather jacket to match up grains and patterns using the right parts of the skin from the shoulder, back, and belly. When a leather is tanned it will have different characteristics from different tanneries. We chose Shinki because the leather has a very 'full hand', meaning there is a tough outer surface with a slightly spongy feel when compressed, but not plastic. The leather stretches very little and the fibres are very tough but it bends very easily and produces a creak when worn. This is a very important characteristic of a good horsehide. Horsehide is famed for its strength, grain, waterproofness, and resistance to abrasion.
Our goatskins come from India where the largest, cleanest, and best goatskins are produced. It is that commitment to quality that reflects in the garment. Like our horsehide, our goatskin is vegetable tanned. We hand select the largest goat skins typically 7 sq ft or larger. The grain is more pebbled and even than the horsehide. Goatskin was often a preference in hotter climates because of the strength to weight ratio and its breathability. It is very abrasion resistant and feels more bristly and light compared to horsehide despite of the fact it is roughly the same thickness.
Leather making is very similar to wine making. The chemicals and vegetable tannins used in preserving skins temper the results of every piece of leather. Modern leather making is often geared towards speed and yield, with the main interest being a low-cost high-volume product. Our philosophy is exactly the opposite. Himel Bros. seeks out tanneries that still use slow processes and recipes reflective of the time when leather garments were a one time purchase and were made to last. The two main techniques for tanning leather are the ancient process of vegetable tanning and chrome tanning. Vegetable tanning uses bark, predominantly Hemlock, Mimosa and Oak, to leech their tannins slowly into the animal skins. This can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to one year. The chrome tanning (or chemical tanning) process only a few hours, and this superficial treatment is reflective in the cost and quality of the leather.
High quality well treated animals yield high quality unscarred hides. Scarred animals, poorly treated animals, or poorly slaughtered animals yield hides of poor quality. The poorer the quality of the skin the cheaper it is, and additional treatment correcting techniques such as sanding, pressing, rolling, and various other measures have to be applied to make the leather look unblemished and natural. Himel Bros. uses only uncorrected leather. This means the natural grain of the animal is present on the surface. That means as the garment ages, those natural wrinkles, bumps, and creases come up and allow the leather to bend more naturally.
The thickness of the leather is dependent on the split of the hide. Garment leather is traditionally .9 mm to 1.2 mm thick. Our leathers fall into that range or 2-3 oz weight. The thickness of a leather does not determine the stiffness or the feel of the leather and this is the proper weight for a garment. Cheaper leathers are either chrome vegetable re-tanned or often rolled out to increase the size of the skin reducing the grain and making the leather very hard to break-in as a garment. The sleeves rarely tunnel and require long wearing and wetting to create a fake grain, or worn look.
Finishing leather is just as unique a process as tanning. Often several applications can be applied before and after the leather is completed to create different looks. Vat dying the leather increases the perceived weight of the leather because of the dyestuff. Vat dyed leathers have an even colour through the leather so if they are scratched the colour appears even all the way through the scratch. Vegetable tanned leather often resists dyes and they can crock or leech out when very very wet and this is one of the limitations of full veg tanning.
Stuffing a tanned skin with oils creates the, 'pull-up' effect of colour moving around on the leather. Oil softens the feel of the leather, creates an uneven colour and increases water resistance.
When the surface is ready for colour it is often hand sprayed onto the skin. There are two basic finishes, pigment and aniline. Pigment is like paint, essentially creating a hard barrier of colour that is impermeable, slippery for friction, and scratchable. If the paint is scratched off the lighter leather colour shows through unless the skin is vat dyed. Anilines are a spray dye that creates a lustrous uneven finish that shows off the grain of the skin much more then pigment. Often preferred by people paying for top grain leather to maximize the appeal. Analine finishes can be topcoated with clear finishes of wax or acrylic to seal them. Semi-analine is just that a mix of finishes leading to different transparencies. Each finish has its pluses and minus and each one wears differently.
We provide a wide selections of colours and finishes according to preference. We believe in sparing no expense and that our leathers are simply the best for look, feel, smell, wear and breaking in. When we can find better quality than what we are using we work to offer it as a choice to our customers, because they want the absolute best leather jacket possible.