As a discerning dog parent, I searched far and wide for luxurious leather leashes and collars. I paid a pretty penny for a few products that quickly faded, fell apart, cracked, or left stains on my dog’s fur. Then, I went to Europe, found Italian leather – and never looked back.
As a result, when you’re ready to invest in the very best functional fashion for your fur baby, Puppy Panache is ready to help you step it up with top quality Italian leather dog collars and leashes – as well as matching accessories for yourself.
What is Italian Leather, Anyway?
So what is it, and why do we love Italian leather? For the same reason the top fashion brands and designers love it for shoes, belts, handbags, and furniture: it is the absolute highest quality leather you can find, anywhere in the world.
Why is Italian leather so much better than leather made elsewhere? Some say it is because Italians are as passionate about leather as they are about food. I can’t argue with that. I can also tell you there are four specific qualities of Italian leather that make it superior to leather made anywhere else in the world:
1) Centuries of Tradition
Italians have been making leather for 100 centuries. The Saracens brought the practice to Palermo, in Sicily, in the year 1,000. But the history of Italian leather-making officially dates to 1282, with the creation of Florence’s “Arte dei Cuoiai e Galigai” – the Guild of Curriers and Tanners.
This professional Guild was one of dozens of secular corporations that maintained rigorous quality control over the arts and trades in Florence from the twelfth century into the sixteenth. The Florence Guild of Curriers and Tanners protected the secret techniques used to produce the world’s best leathers. Those closely-guarded family secrets, handed down through the generations, are still in use today, more than half a millennia later.
Currently, Italy produces 16% of the world’s leather, and two-thirds of the leather made in Europe.
2) What is Italian Leather Made of? Only Top Quality Materials!
Italian leather is made from cowhides that are a by-product of the food industry. Only the highest two grades of leather are used: top grain and full grain.
Full grain leather – the highest quality – includes the top outermost layer of the hide. It is unaltered and maintains its toughness. Top grain leather refers to the outer layer that has been minimally altered – usually sanded slightly – to hide natural imperfections. Top grain leather is a bit softer, while full grain leather is more durable. Lower grades include corrected grain leather, and genuine leather.
By using only the highest grades of hides, Italian leather makers craft products that are both durable and supple. This means they feel soft and pliable against the skin (and fur!) but won’t stretch out of shape like suede or other lower grade materials. Italian leather maintains its shape even after being crumpled – a quality that makes it ideal for your pampered pup’s collar and leash.
3) Traditional Vegetable Tanning Process
Once procured from the cows, the hides are brought to Tuscany to be tanned in the leather manufacturing area located between Florence and Pisa. Artisans along this famed Leather Route follow the ancient vegetable tanning tradition that was developed around 400 BC by Egyptians and Hebrews. It was eventually improved by Arabs during the Middle Ages, and brought to Italy more than 1,000 years ago.
The time-intensive vegetable tanning process involves cleaning the raw hides before tumbling them in a series of giant vats or drums. The increasingly strong “liquors” of vegetable-based dyes are made from tannin-rich roots, bark, leaves, and seed husks. This process – which can take weeks or months to complete – eliminates many of the chemicals and toxins used in the quicker process favored by most industrial tanners.
The Italian vegetable tanning process produces leather that is both water-resistant and color-fast. So, even if your almond-colored Labradoodle dashes through the sprinkler while sporting her burgundy Puppy Panache collar, there won’t be any color transfer to her fur. And you won’t have to worry about toxic chemicals touching her skin, or yours.
This process also ensures a long, low-maintenance life for your dog’s collar and leash. This is what my dog’s collar looks like after a year of daily wear. If it gets dirty, I simply swipe it gently with a damp cloth, and let it dry naturally, out of direct sunlight. (For more tips on how to care for and clean your leather dog collar, read this blog post!)
4) Unsurpassed Craftsmanship
Once tanned, Italian leather is hand-cut and sewn by artisans, who learned the trade in their family businesses.
Steeped in the traditions passed down through several generations, they spend years perfecting each step of the process before moving on to the next.
Attention to detail is the hallmark of this superior craftsmanship. Our studded dog collars, for instance, are double-sided, meaning the rivets for the studs are enveloped inside a leather “sleeve”. This ensures there are no exposed metal edges to catch or pull your dog’s delicate fur. It also means our collars and leashes don’t crack, curl, or fray.
Check out our gorgeous collections, and make one of them yours!