Who Are Wickett And Craig Leather?
Wickett and Craig leather is a name that occasionally gets tossed around in leather goods, often as a selling point for the product in question. Just who are they, anyhow, and why should you care if your leather boots are made using their leather you ask?
The short version is that Wickett and Craig makes some of the finest quality leather available, and are actually fairly unique when it comes to making leather for use in a number of industries including small leather goods like sturdy leather belts and wallets, luggage, leather work boots and also riding tack.
There aren't many operations like theirs left in the United States or, for that matter, anywhere. While there are other tanneries producing similar products, they are few and far between even on a global basis in terms of quality of product.
Does it matter if your boots are made with Wickett and Craig leather?
What Is Wickett And Craig Leather?
Wickett and Craig leather is made with what might be considered old methods, but it's done to ensure consistency and quality of their leather.
They are one of the few pure vegetable tanneries still in operation in the United States, with the other being Hermann Oak. One of the only other major tanneries still left in the United States, Horween, does use a lot of plant-sourced compounds, but isn't a pure vegetable tannery.
In previous eras, multiple tanneries - dozens, in fact - were in every major city. They were a common fixture pretty much anyone lived outside of remote areas. In those eras, the demand for horse tack and saddles and other utilitarian items such as work boots was a lot more constant and thus the volume was needed.
Coupled with synthetic tanning processes (which takes hours instead of weeks to complete the process) cheaper overseas labor and the market demanding more cheap leather rather than the highest quality, there's just less domestic demand for vegetable tanned leather. This has somewhat contributed to the reduction of USA made leather work boots.
Wickett and Craig leather only tans full hides from select cows. Since vegetable tanned leather - such as bridle leather - has become more of a luxury rather than mere material for mass production, the product has to be of higher quality for those manufacturers still looking to make quality leather goods.
Wickett and Craig leather takes six weeks to go from fresh hides to leather ready to go out to the manufacturers that Wickett and Craig supplies, such as us here at Nick's Handmade Boots.
What Kind Of Wickett And Craig Leather Is Out There?
Wickett and Craig leather is offered in top and full grain, which are the highest grades of leather.
There are three layers of the skin when removed from a body. In the leather trade, the top layer is called the grain, the soft inner fleshy layer is called the corium, and there's a grain-corium junction between the two.
Full grain leather is all of the grain, with a bit of grain-corium junction. Top-grain has a top layer of the grain, the grain-corium junction, and a bit of corium on the bottom. In both cases, the rough-out is the bottom side. Full grain leather is hardier - which is why we offer it on our hard-working work boots - but is less cosmetically consistent since its the actual skin of the animal.
The hides are tanned for two weeks, and then treated to the finishing process the buyer wants, which determines what type of leather it is. Working leathers such as bridle leather (English or standard bridle leather) are given a hot bath in oils and waxes to make them supple but also strong, whereas other treatment processes can create different types of product, such as latigo.
They specialize in bridle leathers above others, which are preferred for many fine leather products such as luggage, fine upholstery, wallets, shoes, belts and leather boots. However, Wickett and Craig does offer some latigo and skirting leathers for saddleries.
What Makes Wickett And Craig Leather So Good For Boots?
What makes Wickett and Craig leather of high quality is that they are committed to making the highest quality product without compromises. That demands a premium, first of the manufacturer using the leather and eventually of the buyer, as you're paying for quality product.
Cheap whiskey is made in batches big enough to float a battleship, and it abounds worldwide. Pappy Van Winkle bourbon or Lagavulin single malt scotch, on the other hand, is made with a single-minded focus on quality and consistency; they worry about advertising later. The brand is in the product, and that's more or less what makes Wickett and Craig among the best tanneries in existence.
They've committed themselves to supplying the best possible product, made the way that's been proven over time to yield the best possible product, because that's what their customers demand.
Sort of like a great pair of premium quality custom leather work boots.