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The Art of Leather Tanning

Sometimes the ‘old fashioned way’ is the best way. For Guidi, the art of leather tanning was mastered in the middle ages in Tuscany, where a guild of tanners and shoemakers has existed since the 14th century. It is here that Guido Guidi, Giovanni Rosellini and Gino Ulivo chose to establish their tannery, ‘Conceria Guidi Rosellini’, in 1896. Drawing upon the strong sense of place and long history, Guidi and Rosellini revived an old and almost lost type of leather tanning with innovation and respect.

In consonance with this history, Ruggero Guidi (who today runs the tannery) opts to use traditional ‘Vachetta’ skins in his Rosellini collection. Unlike modern hides which are shaved down for a uniform finish, Vachetta hides are left in their natural state. Being thicker around the neck of the animal and thinner to the sides, the hide retains strength where needed increasing the lifespan of the product. 

Using a natural vegetable tanning process, free from dyes, the leather gets its rich dark colour from oak bark which matures and darkens with age. This process of tanning, developed by Guidi and Rosellini, also gives the leather a natural antibacterial quality. When regularly greased the leather also remains waterproof and resistant to wear. Maintaining the leather in such an untouched state allows it to retain it’s transpiration properties ensuring that when made into shoes they remain comfortable in both summer and winter. 

Shunning methods of mass production in favour of independent research and slower more labour intensive craftsmanship results in products that only a craftsman could create. This humanness manifests itself in a strong bond between the object and the possessor. The soft, candid hides are manipulated in such an organic manner that shoes and bags appear to have materialised almost naturally, and so almost instantly become an extension of the wearer. 

Video from showing skilled hands working to make the 150 plaster casts which built ‘The White Mountain’ in the Paris show-room for SS16

View the collection 

-Envoy of Belfast