This is an excerpt from a conversation we had with Cesar, our head designer at Restrepo Leather. He shared some really inspiring ideas on what the philosophy of “Strictly Hand-made” means for him.
I’ve always felt the need to use my hands. My earliest memories of childhood are of the "feel" of my world, the texture of everything I touched. What I love most about leather is the way it feels in my hands, its different textures, how it speaks to me.
I believe we all possess a lot of power in our hands. The first sense we experience in life is touch. Before vision and smell, we experience touch.
I used to work for a company that made everything by machine. I found myself depressed and bored. Twenty years ago I left to start my own leather workshop making bags entirely by hand. I’m designing and making bags for Restrepo Leather from this workshop.
To make something with your hands is an intimate, natural process. When I work with my hands, I’m at peace. To make is a meditative act.
We must preserve traditional methods of leather-making. By abandoning the use of machines, I’ve returned to something more profound. Manual labor is part of my life philosophy. This is the kind of work that develops the soul.
It is essential that every step of the process adhere to my creative philosophy. I hand-select each hide from the most established tanneries in Bogota. We buy leather that comes from tanneries that have been family-operated for generations.
The individual qualities of a piece of leather inform the way I craft it and what I shape it into. Every bag I make is unique. The color, shape, and texture of a leather bag will change with time and use, revealing its journey – where it’s been, what it’s been used for. Each bag is a work of art, forged over time by its owner and its maker.