Think about your favorite wallet. What does it look like to you? The frayed edges, the quintessential flapping of the coin compartment every time you look for loose change in a hurry, the sense of adventure it portrays with its rustic smell and the soft supple leather. That leather. Adorning your beloved wallet from end to end, it is what can make or break this accessory. While leather of any type or size can stand the test of time, some human design intervention is often required to to ensure its longevity. And of course, to make it look good even in its old age. Weaving of leather is one such longstanding trend. This technique adds depth and pattern to any quality upholstery leather. And like some of the greatest discoveries, this was also accidental.

Weaving was developed by the reputed fashion house Bottega Veneta under the name ‘intrecciato’ in the late 1960s as a sort of ‘fix it’ solution to a manufacturing problem that the brand experienced when it was first introduced. At the time, Bottega Veneta was predominantly a ready-to-wear fashion company and had not yet ventured into the leather accessories market. As such, their sewing machines were all geared to sewing fabric, not leather and in order to make leather goods, they needed to use a very fine leather that their existing machines could handle. This presented a problem for the leather artisans in that using thin leather that was compatible with their sewing machines resulted in leather that was too weak to be used in leather accessories.

Leather hand loom weaving

Intrecciato leather weaving done at the Bottega Veneta atelier

By using the intrecciato weaving technique, artisans could use thin leather that they needed for sewing and at the same time achieve the strength and body needed for leather accessories. This technique is rather conservative in design. However, it gives leather some character and an intriguing personality. As opposed to hand execution, intrecciato is sometimes performed with the same loom that is used for carpet weaving. Thin strips of leather are woven together with cotton thread canvas of the same colour, making it a timeless and an effortlessly chic piece.

While Bottega Veneta currently owns the trademark for intrecciato, other fashion houses were quick to follow suit and experiment with this weaving technique in their own unique way. From handbags to trolleys, from shoes to smartphone cases, the top high-end fashion houses like Hugo Boss, Gucci and Brioni have adopted this winning combination in the classic sense – with fine leather and meticulous craftsmanship. It is a true work of art that is perfect for the fall and winter season with accessories such as belts, bags, jackets, footwear and hats.

Eské primarily uses the weaving technique for laptop bags, wallets and some range of handbags. However, inspiration struck us during the Fall Winter 2017 collection where the weave was one of the primary design feature used in the making of the Rachelle family – with one special addition. Instead of going monochromatic, we weaved together different colours of leather, which makes the handbag look elegant yet bold.

Apart from being used to add character to the product, many designers resort to the technique of weaving in leather for one very singular reason: the use of leather in weaving is efficient, as an entire hide is used to make the product. This means minimal wastage and maximum consistency in the design of your leather product, which ultimately results in less hassle for both the designer and the merchandiser to perfect the make of the product. Weaving might be the answer to a lot of disincentives of leather as a raw material, but the technique in itself is not an easy one to implement. Weaving a handbag panel with four leather strips may be easy, but it also takes tremendous patience and meticulous craftsmanship to get it right. Weaving using unbroken strip on the other hand might seem impossible to accomplish, but if successful, the result is spectacular. The real trick, however is when you try weaving with 8 strips of leather all at once. This feat can be easily accomplished with a lot of practice and patience.

 

How to weave:

To start the weaving process, one needs to be familiar with the different parts of the leather cords. Before starting the process, it is advisable to do a practice run on a strip that measures 2 and 3 inches in length and ¾ inches in width.

  • Use a sharp knife or a leather cutting instrument to slit the strip and leave ¼ inch to ½ inches of space at the points to practice folding the leather back and forth until you feel it softening and becoming workable.
  • The next step is to place the unbroken leather strip onto a flat, hard surface like a table or a workbench. You can use a sharp pencil or a fine-tipped pen to mark the leather strips into thirds, while using your finger as a makeshift guide.
  • Next, use a sharp utility knife with a new blade to slice the leather strips. An instrument like this works great for cutting leather; with sharper instruments being better.
  • Next, push the point of the utility knife through the leather and into a piece of scrap wood or heavy-duty cardboard, laying wood under the leather as you cut to provide a stable platform for the leather to rest on as you work.
  • Now, carefully pull the leather towards the knife while holding the tool steady, meaning that you want to avoid scraping the knife along the leather, but rather want to scrape the leather along the knife. After preparing the unbroken leather strip, you can lay it horizontally on the table with the point of the strip facing to the right.
  • Now, you can begin weaving by pushing the centre strip to the right, before reaching through the bow and grasping the point, followed by pulling the point back through the bow.
  • When the point peels back through the bow, tug it back until it straightens.
  • It might seem like the leather strips appear tangled or knotted, but straightening occurs in the next step.
  • You can now continue by pushing the centre strip to the left and then reaching through the bow and tugging the point back through.

This serves as the completion of the second braid.

Eske-Dunford-Braided-Briefcase

Dunford Braided Briefcase

You can keep going by alternating the left weave with the right weave until the strips of leather become one and the project finishes. Should you notice any unbalanced areas within the braid, take out one weave or add one, whichever method fixes the problem. If the weave does not present itself as smoothly as you expect, you can work the leather back and forth between your hands to even the weave out and relax the tightness of the braid. Should you wish to unweave the leather, simply apply the above steps in reverse.

What once was a makeshift solution by a major fashion house has now manifested itself into one of the most sought after and a chic design pattern, no matter what season. A weaved laptop bag or a wallet is also a refreshing add on in the men’s attire. With celebrities and fashionistas constantly picking an oversized weaved handbag to complete their day look, it looks like the trend is here to stay.