For some time, we've been keen to reduce the amount of leather wasted during production.
So, why do we waste leather? There are two main reasons; the first is unavoidable because unlike woven or synthetic materials, leather hides are irregular shapes without straight edges. This inevitably means that there are areas around the outside edges of the hide that cannot be used.
The second stems directly from our design decisions. We use responsibly-sourced vegetable tanned leather which has the most beautiful depth of colour and natural handle. It took us a long time to source and we love it but it does have a downside – our leather is not heavily finished so there is nothing to conceal the natural marks found on the hide. Subtle marks feature in our products but we ask our factory to avoid using areas with prominent marks. More often than not, this can result in substantial amounts of leather being thrown away during production.
This doesn’t sit well with us so we took some time to focus on how we could tackle the problem. We could change our leather. Adding a finish to our leather could potentially cover the marks but the overall appearance would be flatter and the depth of colour that we cherish so much would be lost. An alternative solution was to find a use for the discarded leather.
To kick off the project, we asked our factory to save all the leather they would usually throw away from a production run and send it to us...
Untangling the spindly off-cuts onto our studio table it became obvious that this would be somewhat of a design challenge. When you cut panels of leather during production what you are left with looks a little like a window frame without the glass. If you add it all together it really does mount up, but individually the pieces are pretty narrow with any substantial areas having marks.
We basically had strips of leather to work with but it felt good to be able to physically handle them and give ourselves the time to figure out what we could do with them. Pretty quickly, we started rolling the strips into spiral toggle shapes and noticed that any marks were concealed in the lower layers. Plus, the shape that formed was beautifully sculptural and satisfyingly tactile.
Adding a length of paracord through the centre of the leather toggle created a loop on either side allowing us to attach a split ring to one end to create a key ring. We realised the loop on the other end is perfect for hanging on a hook – near your front door, so less time spent looking for your keys, hurrah!
We took our idea and basic sample to our factory who helped us finalise the construction method and made it ready for production. As ever, their skill and eye for detail is essential for maintaining the high level of quality we aim to deliver in all our products.
Although we are yet to find a use for all our waste, the way this product is made means we are able to hide marks and utilise more of our leather.
We are so pleased to introduce our resourceful new key ring – the Simple Key Toggle.
Shop the Simple Key Toggle >
Photography : Haarkon