Category Archives: Truman

Destination | Horween Factory, Chicago

There are very few, if not any, tanneries that carry the same reputation for creating leathers of the utmost quality as Chicago’s Horween. They are the proverbial cream of the crop of tanneries, which needless to say, is the reason I’ve been a fan of their products for quite some time now and is why I choose to work with their leathers for Truman. Family owned and operated in Chicago for over a century, they are currently the only domestic tannery and only one of two in the world to be producing Shell Cordovan. They also developed and are the exclusive producers of the infamous Chromexcel, which is world renown for it’s buttery texture and incredible pull-up.

I was rolling through Chicago on our fall tour and they were kind enough to let me stop by and take a look at the tannery to see first-hand where my leather comes from. A HUGE thanks to John Culliton who took a good chunk of time out of his day to walk me through the entire factory and explain in rich detail everything that was happening. I am the smallest of small when it comes to companies they work with but they really went out of their way to accommodate my visit and to me, that really shows they care about what they do. A big cheers to the good folks at Horween. Here’s a little bit of how my tour went:

The factory itself was built in the late 1800′s and was a tannery from the get-go. Horween was established in 1905 by Isadore Horween and had moved into their current location by 1920. So the building itself has been producing leather for well over a century. The history is rich and you can definitely feel it in the air as you walk through the multiple levels of the tannery.

We started in the basement, where raw hides are brought in, folded and stacked on pallets. This is where it all starts.

I watched as two guys unfolded a horsehide, spread it out on a table (hair, mane and all) and started dividing it up into different cuts, starting at the hind area for the rounds that in a few months will end up being the prized Shell Cordovan.

From there, the cuts all go into giant cement mixers filled with water and lime where they tumble around and have all the hair and remaining bits of flesh removed.

After this process, they get separated into different vats — a giant barrel filled with chrome liquor for the chrome-tanned stuff, and big square vats filled with a mixture of water and vegetable matter (tree bark, etc) for veg-tanned stuff. Some of the hides sit here for months.

The chrome-tanned hides come out of their initial stage in a light blue hue, therefore being dubbed “blues” at this point. The blues then get graded, sorted and split down to different weights.

Every hide is custom split to a specific weight here in the beginning stages of tanning as opposed to after the fact like a lot of tanneries do. This of course is done for a reason — to ensure maximum uniformity in weight (thickness) and a clean, uniformly tanned flesh side.

The hides that are to be Chromexcel are at that point sent into giant barrels filled with a variety of hot natural waxes and oils to be “hot-stuffed”, which means the oils and waxes penetrate deep into the hide creating the pull-up affect.

The Chromexcel is then over-dyed and spread by hand to ensure uniformity.

At their final stages, leather is then hung or spread out to dry for several weeks.

For Chromexcel, the very last step is a bath in neatsfoot oil, which accounts for it’s oily, waxy hand.

After the last active step of Shell Cordovan, it’s stacked to let it age for several months. That’s right, they finish producing the leather and then actually let it sit there for another few months because they feel that the product is best after aging a little bit. That to me is the utmost in concern for quality over quantity. It would suit them best to keep moving product out of their factory but instead, they opt to let it sit there for months, taking up precious real estate in their factory because they feel it makes for the best product. Awesome.

They are also the official tannery for NFL football leather as well as basketball leather.

Note the “W” for Wilson embossed on the leather.

On top of all this, they are still progressive — trying out new formulas and coming up with new leathers. It’s no wonder why the name Horween has become synonymous with quality and I’m proud to be using their hides for Truman.

Destination | Truman@Hickoree’s, Brooklyn + Misc NYC

We had a day off in NY so I ended up staying in Brooklyn with some dear friends. I had the pleasure of meeting Chris and Lindsey of Stanley & Sons who were kind enough to let me drop into their studio for a visit. I also got to drop into my buddy Nate’s studio where he’s cooking up some delicious wearables for you all (not sure how much I can say but I’ll follow up on this when the time comes), stop by Blue Bottle for a necessary caffeine fix, and finally, visit the new brick and mortar Hickoree’s shop to drop off some more Truman goods and see the space. I’ve said this before, but I’m very honored to be a part of the amazing stock at Hickoree’s and it was really cool to be able to see my stuff sitting amongst all the other great product in person. The space is a must see if you’re ever in the area. Thanks NY…’till next time.

By the way, that’s shop owner Emil’s personal Minimalist Bifold in the bottom left corner – aged a few months and now displayed alongside the new stock. Pretty cool.

Destination | Truman@Art in the Age, Philly

Art in the Age asked me if I wanted to be a part of one of their monthly installations and having been to the store before and being a fan, I was more than up for it.  I happen to be on tour at the moment and was able to drop by the shop to see the installation in person.  I’m definitely honored to be part of a great installation with other inspirational people (Bob being one of them) and am very pleased to see my stuff stocked alongside many other great brands in a great store doing great things.  Great.  I finally got to meet up with Bob for some drinks and hang time as well.  Greater.

p.s. Thanks for the bottle of Root guys!

Introducing: Truman Handcrafted

Every-so-often life gets way too busy to even think about keeping this up but I’m coming out of hiding to tell you all that I’m officially putting my leathercraft pieces up for sale.  I introduced a small amount of stuff on this site a while back but I feel like I’ve made vast improvements to my craft since, and finally feel good enough about the quality of my work to officially release it.  I’ve got a small amount of things up for now, but have lots more ideas/plans I’d like to pursue if time/budget allow.  Drop by and have a look…hope you all like.  Thanks.

www.trumanhandcrafted.com

P.S. I’ll do my best to keep this site up, especially now that I have a reason to be updating more. Thanks for reading and for sticking around.