The leather sector, both industrial and artisanal, brings together professionals who work with leather or substitute materials such as canvas to produce everyday objects such as bags, gloves, and wallets.
It is a rapidly growing industry across the world, in particular for high-end products and travel bags. The French leather industry is the third-largest leather exporter in the world, while remaining firmly rooted in high-quality, artisanal production. The average price of an imported bag is €89, while a bag which is made in France and exported costs an average of €500.
FRENCH LEATHERWORK: ETHICS AND QUALITY GUARANTEED
France is the second largest exporter of leather goods in Europe (behind Italy) and has a worldwide reputation for excellence, with big luxury brands such as Hermes as well as the unique savoir-faire of artisans working in small and medium-sized companies.
The French Leatherwork ‘hallmark’ is a guarantee that your bag or wallet has been produced without production lines or industrial methods which cost less but which have serious environmental consequences.
French leathersmiths are widely known to be highly qualified and skilled, and they are better paid than in certain other countries where wages are extremely low and production often takes place in factories under deplorable conditions. In these notorious ‘sweatshops’, there is little social or environmental protection, and even where regulations do exist, they are not followed most of the time.
French leather companies work closely with their artisans, which creates an environment of mutual respect. Quality control is easier to carry out, checks are more frequent, and the results are more reliable. A bag made by a French leather goods company is a high-quality bag, the product of a manufacturing process that is more respectful of people and the environment.
French manufacturing was therefore the only possible choice for Bleu de Chauffe: high standards of quality and ethics have always been at the heart of what we do.
MILLAU: A SYMBOL OF FRENCH SAVOIR-FAIRE IN LEATHERWORK
Since the 17th century, Millau has been known as one of the most prestigious towns in the world for leatherwork, and glove-making in particular.
At Bleu de Chauffe we wanted to make the most of this local savoir-faire, so in 2010 we set up our workshop a stone’s throw from Millau in Saint-Georges-de-Luzençon, in the magnificent natural setting of the gorges of the Tarn River, at the foot of the Larzac plateau and the Millau Viaduct.
Apart from tanning the leather, all stages in the production process are carried out at our workshop in the Aveyron region, built using eco-construction methods and perfectly integrated into this unique environment. This is our choice: French artisanal production and the highest quality leather goods.
BLEU DE CHAUFFE: BAGS AND ACCESSORIES OF EXCEPTIONAL QUALITY
Each Bleu de Chauffe bag and accessory is made entirely by hand by a single artisan, who is responsible for their creation from start to finish. Each artisan has their own way of making a bag, their own savoir-faire. Once their bag is finished, they sign the pocket inside.
This makes every Bleu de Chauffe bag a unique piece, an artisanal item which is the product of high-quality French leatherwork, a piece with character.
In order to have complete control at every stage from creating an idea to the finished product, at Bleu de Chauffe we have decided to house everything at one site: design, production, quality control, and customer service.
In order to ensure that every bag or accessory leaves the workshop without the slightest imperfection, daily quality control checks are carried out at every stage of the production process, with particular attention paid to the finished product. This means that when you buy a Bleu de Chauffe bag or accessory, you are guaranteed to be in possession of a faultless piece of French leatherwork which is made to last.
At Bleu de Chauffe we go against the grain of ‘fast fashion’: unlike outsourced or subcontracted operations, we have complete control of the entire production process, which enables us to offer our clients a genuine post-sales and repairs service.
ETHICAL PRODUCTION WITH RESPECT FOR PEOPLE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
At Bleu de Chauffe, ethical and responsible production has been a cornerstone of our project from the beginning. Unlike industrial operations and dehumanizing production lines, our artisans take all the time they need to create each one of their bags.
90% of the time, leather production is very polluting, as leather is generally tanned using chrome and other heavy metals. In order to avoid this heavy metal pollution, which often has serious consequences in many countries, we only use European vegetable-tanned leather. This leather is tanned using natural agents from trees and plants such as oak, acacia, chestnut, and mimosa. Aside from the advantages for the environment, vegetable-tanned leather does not cause allergic reactions when it touches the skin, and its natural patina and character develop over time.
When you buy a French-made leather product, you are therefore making a choice: to opt for a high-quality product rather than supporting ‘fast fashion’ with its negative social and environmental consequences. But we don’t stop there at Bleu de Chauffe: we go above and beyond in terms of quality, creating unique artisanal items with respect for the environment – beautiful pieces that are made to last.