Monday, July 20, 2009
This week I went to Leather Impact (256 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018, Cross Streets: Between 8th Ave and 7th Ave leatherimpact.com, (212) 302-2332 ), a very high-end leather store right in the middle of the fashion district. Why leather? Because Leather Impact has the most beautiful leather bands...
I use leather bands to tie knitted coats together, like this one:
I made this coat a few years ago, and my search for the perfect leather band brought me to this store. In order to close the coat, the leather had to be tied every time it was worn, so I was very particular about quality. Leather impact has an entire wall of spools filled with the most gorgeous colored leather straps imaginable. The quality is great, and the leather lasts for years without wearing out.
Aside from hides of various kinds and straps of all lengths, Leather Impact used to sell collars. I bought a vintage Eskimo jacket a few years back--our pugs (which have since happily moved upstate to a large garden) chewed the beautiful, luscious collar off after I left my coat unattended for a day. My husband was shocked. "That brand new coat, what are you going to do with it now?" It did look pathetic. "No problem," I said. I jumped in the train and rode up to Leather Impact, where I found rows of the same kinds of collars. Triumphant, I returned in the afternoon. I brought my coat to a tailor and had him sew it in for 10 bucks. A 20 dollar investment made my coat look better than it had when I first bought it. Although I did not see any collars when I went in this time, I did find this:
My mind immediately started thinking about what kind of knitted piece might be able to carry of the gold fringe...
One thing that I feel compelled to say here, although I don't want to get into an extended argument, is that I don't believe in animal cruelty. I know leather is a complicated subject, and I know there are some terrible things being done to animals, BUT, I do eat meat, and since I support that industry, even if I try to buy only "happy meat," I feel it would be hypocritical to criticize leather. I'd much rather see the skin that is left over from cows used for clothes than thrown out to rot in a landfill.
I have recently read that a lot of wool sheep are treated abominably as well. It will not stop me from knitting, but I will try to buy wool from animals that have been treated well. I believe in supporting small farms that try to make a difference (i.e., small mills and dyers), just like I try to support fair trade coffee plantations and organic farms.
To read about cruelty to wool sheep, you can go here: www.savethesheep.com.
Leather Impact was founded in 1999 by a man named Francois. His mission was to find very high quality leather of many kinds. Francois died in 2002, leaving the business in the hands of his son, Dimitri, who now runs it together with his partner, Marina. The store works with about 10 tanneries, seeking out the best items in each location. Custom dyes are available upon request. Some of the leather is printed or painted. For knitters especially, the lamb skin begs to be cut into strips and used as luscious collars:
The nice thing about this store is that they sell to large companies, but also take the small folk seriously. You can by one leather band, or one yard of leather, or you can by 12 hides, or 120. The staff is very friendly and patient. Personally, the smell of leather makes me a little intoxicated, kind of like the smell of really good coffee... I left in a bit of a haze and wobbled along on my bicycle for a couple of blocks before I found my bearings.