How Emi Leather Goods are Made

Emi's production process stems from the sourcing of top-quality, premium leathers. A key factor in how we select our leather sources is the information available on the tannery's physical factory and it's production process. We support tanneries that strive to meet ethical standards in regards to water treatment methods and fair trade work environments.

Many of the tanneries that we regularly use have been audited by the Leather Working Group, an organization that promotes sustainable business practices within the leather industry. At the same time, we also understand that there are tanneries who produce quality leathers, have yet to be audited, but are committed to ethical business practices and minimizing their environmental footprint. In any case, we thoroughly research all of our leather suppliers to ensure that they uphold the highest ethical standards in regards to the community and environment.

After selecting the leather, we begin sketching out product ideas. Our design inspirations are found everywhere: from manipulating the leather 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 production on the final leather goods. At this stage, we accept customer requests, and modify the colors to your liking. Every item varies slightly in 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 traditional leather craft techniques.

This means we cut the hides by hand, and glue piece by piece. We puncture the leather with mallets and pricking irons, and saddle stitch using our hands and a wooden sewing pony (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 also check every step, and measure regularly, to ensure all pieces fit properly. Emi’s production process is time consuming, but oddly meditative and provides our customers high quality products, and us with a more intimate appreciation for the craft itself.