How Emi Leather Goods are Made
Atelier Emi's production process stems from the sourcing of top-quality, premium materials. A key factor in how we select our leather sources is the information available on the tanneries and their production processes. We support tanneries that strive to meet ethical business practices regarding water treatment methods, minimizing heir environmental footprint, and fair trade work environments. Many have been audited by the Leather Working Group, an organization that promotes sustainable business practices within the leather industry, and/or other independent organizations. We source from the highest quality materials and most traceable materials available to us, to ensure that both we ourselves and our raw materials suppliers uphold the highest ethical standards for both our communities and environment.
When sketching out product designs, our inspirations are found everywhere: from manipulating the tools/materials, to performing seemingly non-relevant tasks, exploring nature, visiting art exhibits, or even watching our surroundings. Product ideas can sprout from seeing and feeling various leathers and their tempers (how soft/stiff the leather is), browsing different hard wares, having a desire to improve existing products, or from personal requests from friends, family and supporters.
Once a product idea has been decided, we then begin design testing and modifying the pattern. In this step of production, prototypes are made and then analyzed for any modifications. We look for improvements that we can make in details such as sizing, hardware choices, durability, functionality, aesthetics, and others. When we see any chance for improvements, we'll modify the pattern, remake the prototype, re-test, and repeat this step as necessary.
After rigorous product testing, we start our home-based production on our customers' final leather goods. At this stage, we'll modify the colors to our customers' requests, add monogramming, or any other customization requests discussed. Every item varies slightly on how they're transformed from an idea into a tangible product. However, all Emi leather goods share the tradition of being 100% hand crafted and hand-stitched, using a mixture of both traditional and modern leather craft techniques.
This means we cut the hides and glue them together piece by piece. We puncture the leather using mallets and pricking irons. We always saddle stitch Emi leather goods, using our hands and a wooden sewing pony and never sewing machines. We'll spend hours and days sanding, painting, re-sanding and re-painting the edges until they meet our quality standards. We check every step, and measure regularly, to ensure all pieces fit properly. Emi’s production process is time consuming, but oddly meditative. This also provides our customers with the high-quality products that they're seeking, and us with a more intimate appreciation for the craft itself.