The Art of Leather: Modern Artisans

Rolls of leather, string, buttons, sharpeners, spools, nails and even an open flame are just some of the tools that surround the workplaces of today’s leather artisans. They are wearing protective goggles, steel-tipped shoes and tough, thick gloves and aprons. They are steeped in the aroma of leather, dye, wood, dust and all things natural and organic. They are reminiscent of a bygone era of craftsmanship, romance and nostalgia.

One of these artisans is the passionate shoemaker S. Lambourn-Hull. The shoes they create have substance and the power to evoke something that resonates in your soul. Their boots are ‘hand welted’ which is a construction made entirely by hand. They use quality materials, tools and craftsmanship. As a result, the footwear they produce holds the lowest environmental impact and lasts for the long haul. S. Lambourn-Hull’s products are as individual and as honest as their makers.

A distinct feature of S. Lambourn-Hull’s footwear is that often shoes are left unlined or semi-lined to expose the seams and allow the foot and leather to breath even more naturally. Being entirely handmade, their creations are unique, strong and comfortable. They age beautifully and last a lifetime if well cared for.

All this effort produces a product of unsurpassed quality that has become almost completely forgotten due to modern demands. In an age where everything is disposable and mass-produced, there are more and more artisans embracing the ways of old. They are unique, creative and extraordinary, solitary and physically strong. They have to handle the heavy equipment, materials and molds, to cut by hand, shape, stretch and pull, nail and sew. These artisans use old-fashioned methods to prepare and treat their materials in order to give them their beautiful textures.

Carol Christian Poell, a designer from Austria, is another extraordinary artisan who has attracted an ultra-niche following. He holds up in a studio in Milan’s Naviglio district where he quietly designs whenever the mood strikes. He produces whatever he’s inspired to and typically for such unique artisans, he doesn’t follow trends and only shows to the public when he feels like it.

Born in Linz in 1966, Carol now lives and works in Milan, Italy. He was trained as a tailor for men and women in Vienna (Michelbeurn) and he studied fashion design at the Domus Academy in Milan. Carol presented his first men’s collection in 1995 and developed his ladies’ collection from classical elements of traditional menswear three years later.

The distribution network for his clothing, shoes and accessories, which are nothing less than extraordinary, includes more than 40 dealers all over the world. Only small design houses can employ such an avant-garde technique. To this day, he still dyes his leather in ox blood and uses accessories such as buttons that are entirely handmade. The end result is that his stylish pieces last for decades, look and feel better with the passing of time.

Guidi is a brand that has its roots in Tuscany. Since 1896, Guido Guidi, Giovanni Rossellini and Gino Ulivo established ‘Conceria Guidi Rosellini’ at Pescia in Tuscany. There the tanning of leather can be traced to the middle ages and a Guidi of tanners and shoemakers has existed since the XIV century.

Guidi runs the tannery and is always looking for the balance between modern technology and traditional manufacturing skills for its unisex designs. The ‘Conceria Guidi Rosellini’ is renowned the world over as it provides specialty leathers and treatments for the most exacting designers and manufacturers. A passion for leather and respect for tradition is the sole purpose of every Guidi project. Guidi does not mass-produce and undertakes independent research to produce shoes and accessories for a clientele looking for unique design and craftsmanship. Guidi produces shoes that come in soft, candid or distressed hides and is synonymous with the existing tie between the item and its owner.

True artisans make beautiful shoes, jewelry, bags, coats and much more, all following the handmade traditions of old. They create bespoke pieces that will last a lifetime, age beautifully and never date. These artisans have integrity, they respect their materials, nature and the environment. They are solitary individuals who lose themselves while working with their hands. Their workplace is intimate and very personal, they rarely see customers and they source their materials, such as hardware and accessories from other like-minded souls.

The traditional methods of construction used by these artisans provide a superior product that cannot be replicated in factories even with the most ingenious modern-day inventions. Machines cannot carve out insoles or replicate hand-stitching by gluing pieces together. Machines cannot match the longevity of something handled and created by hand, with passion and sweat. Machines cannot capture the patience and grit, which inevitably help provide the piece with a story before it reaches you.


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