Over the past three years, we have been slowly refining the process behind our products. It can be a gruelling process at times! The journey has been one that included conducting a wide search across Australia to find the perfect kangaroo leather and thread, plenty of trial and error to find the best colour combinations and hours spent perfecting the workmanship with the design. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We’ve put heart, soul and hard yakka into creating each and every one of our products. And today, we’d like to have a yarn about what we do in a little more depth.
VEGETABLE TANNED KANGAROO LEATHER
At the heart of our products is the kangaroo leather. To be specific, Australian made, vegetable-tanned kangaroo leather. Kangaroo leather is thinner and stronger than other leathers, making it the perfect choice for a slim, minimal wallet.
Vegetable tanning is one of the oldest methods of leather treatment known to man. Evidence of it has been found in 4th-century Egyptian tombs, and it continues to be practised around the globe, most notably in what some might call the leather capital of the world - Italy. It is environmentally conscious because it uses natural colours and plant-based ingredients – no toxic chemicals here. It can take months for the vegetable tanning process to be completed, but it renders colours deep into the leather and will develop a lovely patina as it ages.
Given the rich history of vegetable tanning leather, we knew we were on the hunt for an Australian based, vegetable tanner who specialises in kangaroo leather. After back and forth with a host of tanners, inspecting different colours and finishes, we ended up partnering with Birdsall Leather, a family-owned and Sydney-based tannery since 1883, for the firm leather on the outside of our wallets for almost all our colours. As you can see in the photos below, this is a place with a long and rich history!Only our black is sourced from AusTANNERS, just outside Melbourne, for its consistently darker colour. For the internal, soft leather lining, we use Packer Leather, a Brisbane based tannery.
We only use high quality, natural and Australian made kangaroo leather because we want our customers to have a wallet that has your back (pocket).
EXPERIMENTING WITH COLOUR
For a lot of people, colour is the most important consideration when choosing a wallet! For us, picking our colours came down to a lot of trial and error. Our original Two Pocket Cardholder started with only three colours – classic tan, mocha brown and black. With the second variation, we expanded up to 21 colours! We were doing pinks, red, purple, yellow, green, pretty much anything you can think of!
By variation three, we started experimenting with the thread colour and the introduction of edge paint gave us even more scope. We created every combination you could think of, using a guiding principle that edge colour should match the thread or lining colour.
It was a lot of fun and a huge learning curve. We reflected, listened to feedback and eventually reduced our colour combinations down to seven.
For our latest variation of the Two Pocket Cardholder, we made things even more minimal, settling on five colours – Graphite Grey, Black, Sand, Vintage Caramel and Vintage Chocolate. Thanks to the kangaroo leather, each wallet has a unique texture and scarring that shows the life of the leather. As time goes by and your wallet’s patina develops, it turns into a pocket full of memories.
PRECISE CUT & STITCHING
One of the final steps in the design process for our kangaroo leather wallet is the cut and stitching.
At the beginning of our journey, we hand cut the leather ourselves but found that this process didn’t produce results as consistent as we would like. So, we invested in a leather die cutter instead to create a consistently beautiful product. Whilst still hand-operated, the leather die cutter allows us to cut the leather to exact specifications, which in turn improves quality and gives us the freedom to explore new functional designs like the Bi-fold Card Wallet.
The stitching process underwent similar treatment. Originally we hand stitched all of our kangaroo leather wallets, an intimate affair to say the least. But as we slowly grew, we wanted to create more sustainable practices that could grow with us. So we decided to switch to machine stitching - our handmade ethos is upheld by Gil from Abide Leatherworks in Mount Beauty, Victoria. He has over a decade in leather making experience and pours his heart into every piece. Using this method offers precision stitching, which improves consistency, refines the finish and allows us to continue experimenting.
For thread, we use a polyester blend, which offers significantly higher tensile strength than cotton thread and won’t fray – so you don’t have to worry about money falling through the seams. We can’t say anything about it falling through your fingers when it’s your round though!
And that’s the story. The devil really is in the detail. We hope you enjoyed learning what goes into a Blackinkk wallet. If you want to find out more, check out our full collection.