New tannery, same source
How we move forward after the pandemic brought leather production to a halt in Maine.
A cornerstone of Maine Leather Company has always been a commitment to transparent sourcing and production. The privilege of locally sourced materials has been something I have been so grateful for since the inception of MLCo. The entire leather industry from top to bottom, has experienced an upset throughout 2020 due to the global pandemic and changing economy. The tannery where I bought my very first leather and where I’ve continued to source my leather for the past seven years has officially closed its doors. Tasman Industries, who has owned and operated the tannery for the past 9 of its over 100 year history made the decision to close this production facility permanently this past summer.
The tannery had not only been a substantial local employer, but the source of lifetime and generational careers, a legacy for many. Making leather to be used for military boots, and for global footwear and leather goods brands was a source of community pride.
Where do we go from here?
A small group of locals has been keeping the online sales running smoothly, now sourcing leather from an affiliated Tasman tannery in León, Guanajuato Mexico. While I have always felt a certain level of trust knowing my leather was processed locally, I felt a sense of relief learning more about León and its place in the global leather industry.
Spanish conquistadors brought cattle, horses and farming to this area in the 16th century. With livestock being at the center of the local economy, a vibrant leather industry developed over the centuries in León. Now it is home to generations-old tanneries producing premium leather for leather goods companies worldwide. León is also a shoemaking center which contributes to the heightened quality produced by local tanneries.
Knowing that the tannery I am sourcing from is part of a centuries old tradition, with ethical standards upheld by the same American company I have been working with since the beginning, gives me great comfort. We all can rest easy knowing that the leather was not produced using exploitive or irresponsible environmental practices nor benefitting from the abuse of vulnerable workers.