Slow fashion and sustainability in leather bag making

Hello, my name is Natasha Kerimova, and I am the designer and maker of Ten Cloudy luxury leather bags. I am excited to be a part of Artisanry Co community. Among other things, we share the same critical attitude towards cheap mass production and unhinged consumerism which encourage underpaid labour and result in environmental problems. I am a passionate advocate of sustainable slow fashion. My philosophy in this respect is simple: buy less, but buy high quality sustainable and fairtrade products.

I want to share with you how these principles are applied in my own craft and business at different stages from choosing suppliers to making finished products.

Let us start with materials: to make a leather bag one needs leather. I use particular types of cowhides which are a byproduct of the agricultural industry. The cost and quality of potentially suitable cowhides vary radically. Quality and prices of leathers depend on several factors including method of tannage and finishing, country of origin, and characteristics of specific tannery (its history, work ethics, eco-impact). There are two main methods of tanning: vegetable tanning and chrome tanning. 80% of all leather production uses chrome tanning which is fast, low-cost process applying heavy metals minerals. It is not very natural and environmentally friendly, to put it mildly. Vegetable tanning is quite different. It is an ancient method in which tanning is achieved through the usage of wood, bark, plants, roots and other organic tannins. The process is very time consuming and requires considerable craftsmen skills. Veg-tanned leather is much more expensive, as a result, but so worth it. You get thick, high-quality leather, with a lovely natural smell. The material is very nice to touch. Over time due to its natural characteristics veg-tanned leather develops a gorgeous patina. At the same time, it is also a very biodegradable product. We work mostly with Italian veg-tanned leathers coming from famous Tempesti Spa tannery, supporting principles of traditional ethical craftsmanship. So the choice of materials and suppliers is our first step to sustainability.

The second step is production. I strive to make it as sustainable as possible. I personally design and make Ten Cloudy bags. All bags are created here in England, at my studio in Kingston upon Thames. I do it with love and expertise, using hand tools, machines and applying classic craft techniques. As an artisan, I am individually responsible for my production. It might take several days to make one bag. You can be certain who, and where made Ten Cloudy bag for you. When a customer feels the passion and love of the creator, it is a very energetically powerful fashion. I work by demand, by pre-order, which helps me to produce less waste. From leather cuts waste, I make small artworks, pins and still looking for some more ideas on how to decrease production waste further.

I am happy that I am among people sharing the same values, that is Artisanry Co. community. Thank you for helping us to demonstrate to our audience not only the product but the story, passion, philosophy and the creator behind it.