It is a well-known fact that leather ages gracefully. Each leather item you own is a testament to your habits and who you are. Your beloved wallet picks up everything from the oil on your skin to the ice cream from your first date and the dirt from your excruciating hiking trip. That’s the magic of owning a leather product. You watch it evolve with you and because of you. But that’s not the only unique design element leather as a raw material has witnessed. The history of design on leather is parallel to the development of mankind. Long before our ancestors could communicate through letters and words, they drew symbols on skins of animals.
Soon after, this same skin was used to shelter and clothe themselves. While the use of leather evolved, so did the design on it. Therefore, it was no surprise when leather became the canvas fashion houses turned to for displaying some of their best works of art. And that’s what embossing is – a work of art. The art of producing raised patterns on the natural grain of an animal skin.
Embossments can vary in design and pattern, and would as much depend on the mood of the designer as the trend of the season. Usually, embossing is done on the grain side by compressing the leather grain structure. The uncompressed leather fibers remain above. This creates a three-dimensional effect. The leather is sometimes embossed with two embossing plates from both sides (positive and negative). Then the recesses on the back must be stabilized to prevent the embossed motif from pressing down during use.
Some of the biggest fashion houses like Gucci and Chanel have always used animal skin print embossing on leather to create their signature handbags. This mysterious trend of using animal print on the animal skin may seem tad weird, but it’s not.
Embossing, more than a design element, was fashion world’s answer to and a very sly way of getting away from the ban on using animal and reptile hides. Even experts have a hard time distinguishing if the grain structure is from the original animal or an embossed copy. In the early 1970s, wearing animal prints and skin conveyed a sense of power. It aptly fits the free-spirited independence and heightened interest in world cultures in those times. Characteristics associated with a particular animal, such as the ferocity of a tiger, were thought to be transferred to the wearer through animal-patterned clothing. This trend manifested ten folds when the designers Dominico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana made animal prints their signature. Their prints shone the diva persona of the celebrities they are known for dressing.
Over the years, high-end brands like Michael Kors and Kate Spade have constantly turned to embossing for many a Fall/Winter collection designs. The design, created by press rolling or stamping, has often covered the entire surface of your beloved handbag or just some parts of it.
At Eské, we have perfected the art of embossing. From backpacks to wallets, we’ve experimented with the design and craft of embossing across our range of product categories. Over the years, through our gained mastery in this art form, we’ve also pushed limits and added our own special touch to it. In 2015, we started using the Montana Lace leather which is unique to the brand. This rare Italian leather is embossed with flower and leaf prints to create an intricate design which looks exceptionally beautiful when combined with the texture the leather itself has. The bags created with this design often have a shine to them. The design looks akin to a panel made with pieces of glass, making your handbag look as much extraordinary as fashionable. Although prints and patterns are the most common embossments, the look of your handbag might starkly differ depending on the way the design is embossed.
The three most commonly used types of embossing are:
- Blind embossing: Also known as blind printing and blind finishing, this technique is used to emboss leather without any color. While the raised design from the surface of the leather is prominent, the color of the handbag will be vastly monotonous.
- Gold embossing: In this unique process of embossing, a gold leaf is transferred to the surface of the leather through stamping or rolling. This gives the handbag a rather exquisite look and the leather a certain shine.
- Color imprint: This technique uses the transfer of color by color films in the embossment. This gives the embossed a prominent edge, making it stand out.
There are several other parameters that influence the design and type of embossment you see on your handbags. For example, imprints on damp leather are clearer and more durable. Several other factors also affect the durability of the embossing. The higher the pressure used to stamp the tools into the leather, the stronger and more durable the embossing. Similarly, the hotter the tool, the longer the stamping process, the longer the embossment lasts on your handbag.
Creating a delectable design on your handbags is the primary reason why any designer resorts to the process of embossing. However, more often than not, it is also the easiest way to hide any obscure natural marking on your leather. The surface of the leather is sanded and repaired before embossing, making the hide a ‘corrected grain’. During their lifetime, animals suffer several wounds that affect the surface of the leather. Embossing effectively hides the injuries, marks from illnesses, insect bites and other damages to make the grain uniform which in turn reduces wastage. The surface of your handbag will be identical and all the minor flaws and irregularities will be balanced.
While it is quite poetic to watch leather age, the art of embossing is rather sensual too. Molding an already tamable raw material like leather to look the way you want it to is truly the pinnacle of personalization. Your piece of leather quite literally becomes your second skin.
Which other fabric will ever let you feel this sense of ownership?