When you think about accessories in vegetable tanned leather, what’s the first image that pops in your mind? A bag, maybe? Good. Hold this image. Add more color. Done? Now, add a figure: take one from your childhood dreams, a horse, a deer, a rose, the beautiful pattern of a summer dress or the leaves of a grapevine. The result will be amazing!
Well, now open your eyes and go to the website of Pelino Leather. The place where you can find the bag you have dreamed.
Pelino Leather is based in Romania and creates hand-made vegetable tanned leather bags with original design. Some of them are inspired by traditional Transylvanian patterns. But the true inspiration is freedom: from passing fashion trends, from the boredom of an everyday life that is often very far from our expectations. This is sustainable fashion. A style that tells a story, the one of Diana Szekernyes, who started the business between 2007 and 2009 alongside her husband.
At that time, she used to work as an employee in a bank: the job was very well paid, but money and a prestigious position were not enough to make her happy. Then came the 2008 crisis. Diana recalls: “I was in charge of loans and mortgages, basically the reasons of the great financial crisis that caused many people to lose their job. People’s rage turned against banks, and with reason: as an employee, I could understand all the inner mechanism that lead to the disaster, and how it could have been avoided. I felt like I have been part of a lie, all that time. It was so awful”.
Then came the big decision: she decides to quit her well-paid job to start her own business. No regrets. “I had already started to create leather accessories, but it was more like a hobby, a passion that I shared with my husband. In that period of my life, vegetable tanned leather to me was something I could touch, feel and rely on. So, I decided to turn it into a real business”.
The start-up period was hard but she had the support of her husband and co-founder Peter Szekernyes who was already involved in the leather industry, like his father and grandfather before him. His grandfather was a chemist and invented 60 different kinds of leather, that unfortunately never patented , including the so called ‘crocodile shape’. In 1973 they started to work with vegetable tanned leather with tannin”. Diana keeps this tradition going: all Pelino accessories are in vegleather. “It’s the perfect choice: you can mold it, it’s resistant and it expresses my vision of style -she explains- nowadays, few artisans really know how to use and enhance it. It’s more than a material: it’s a philosophy”.
Customer reactions are different: “Many people never heard of vegetable tanned leather with tannin! Tannin is at the heart of vegetable tanning and is widely found in the plant kingdom, including chestnut and quebracho wood. This natural extract imparts to the tanned leather unique characteristics of beauty that makes it immediately distinguishable over the time.
When I explain it, they are charmed. I don’t aim to large distribution numbers but to a small group of aware, loyal customers, and we have many in Europe: private consumers, but also stores and even furniture manufacturers! We are attending many fashion exhibitions in Europe, especially Italy and Germany. People stop by our stand and say ‘I’ve never seen something like this!’ We get noticed. Our originality gets noticed. We have come so far, and I think the growth will continue for the upcoming years.”
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Vegetable tanned leather has the ability to withstand time and wear. The secret is tannin, a natural substance used for centuries as a tanning agent. Find out more.