People often ask me why I favour exotic hide wallets, when natural tanned cowhide clearly shows much more evolution and is more ‘in-line’ with the vintage denim hobby. Well, this statement can be true or false depending on the type of hide you choose 🙂
While it is true that reptilian and fish leathers do not usually show as much evolution as does vegetable tanned cowhide, this does not mean they don’t evolve at all. Also, while it is true that veggie tanned natural/nude cowhide can show changes in colour and grain with time and use, there are other leather types which actually show more evolution!!!
For example – in terms of colour change with age, kangaroo skin actually displays a more dramatic change than cowhide; and in terms of grain change with age, elephant skin & ostrich skin are far superior to cowhide.
On this note, let me show you some leather evolutions. This is the same elephant hide coin pouch I posted a while back, after one month use, with the colour dramatically darker and the grain much more pronounced:
And here’s the evolution of the crocodile wallet I posted a while back:
The scales have become more opaque & solidified where friction is most intense.
Warning: Long Rant
I hope I’ve convinced you that natural cowhide isn’t the only acceptable option when it comes to leather evolution.
But just in case I offend more leathersmiths who work exclusively with cowhide, let me share my thoughts regarding why cowhide is the most appropriate option in most situations:
1. Cowhide is inexpensive
(well, relatively speaking :P)
2. Cowhide is easy to care for
(which is not the case for croc, elephant, ostrich, etc – for which the maintenance procedure is different and more difficult; you can’t do the “2 years use, no oiling” thing that is common on forums)
3. It’s difficult to obtained exotic hides which have been well processed (many exotic hides I’ve come across have been too dry, too thin, dyed a brilliant shade of pink, etc)
4. It’s difficult to find craftsmen who have in-depth knowledge and experience in dealing with exotics
5. It’s a bit of a learning curve to understand which type of hide, which portion of a hide, etc to use for certain applications – unless you’re actually involved in leathercrafts
(this is something I’m still trying hard to learn; and this learning curve will cost you mega-bucks!)
6. Most exotic hides don’t come as thick as cowhide does
(the one-piece, 6mm thick, python/lizard skin belt does not exist; most exotic hides are backed onto pigskin or cowhide – either due to the fact that the hide is not thick enough or long enough – ultimately a less desirable construction, especially when it comes to things like belts)
7. Some people will stop being your friend once they see a piece of elephant hanging out of your back-pocket
(and, without doubt, neg reps for you on SuFu :P)
8. Some hides are actually pretty weak or have bad elemental resistance
(snakeskin is one of those skins which shouldn’t be used on belting, wallets, etc but often is)
So there… Have a nice weekend 🙂