Welcome back to the Moo-Young studio! In our previous episode, I took you through the nitty gritty tour of our workspace, and mentioned our piles of leather scraps nearly a dozen times. With such emphasis on saving the cast-off material, there certainly must be importance behind it. As promised, we will now plot out the many projects a single hide can feed, and both how and why we end up with towers of leather trimmings. In this chapter, I’d like to take you on a brief journey through our process of creating a zero waste brand using our shibori suede.
The story begins when the suede arrives. The first task is to dye it — a full day’s work. Using our iconic shibori technique, we transform the plain suede to sport pinwheeling radials, cracked ice patterns, and sunflower silhouettes. Every once in a while, we’ll let a dyed hide remain a completed piece, and rig it into a wall hanging. The most common first destination for the freshly dyed leather, however, is our clothing. To build our original designs, we cut the suede into the pieces for needed for the garments; these are often quite large, and take up much of the hide.
But there are always the awkward long pieces, the armhole cutouts, perhaps a big block that simply couldn’t be placed. These cycle into the medium and medium-small projects. One of my favorite uses of the initial round of scraps is our patchwork ottomans, which we collaged together with three-inch-wides strips. Frequently, we comb through this pile of remainings and cut squares for the small suede drawstring bags that come complimentary with our Leather and Pearls pieces. For these, we also cut long, skinny strips for the drawstrings. Slightly wider long shapes are set aside into a pile to be turned into fringe details on garments. With the new set of cut pieces set aside, inevitably, yet another pile has formed.
We’re now left with a motley crew of small suede misfits, but we refuse to let them see the inside of the garbage can! With these tiny trimmings in hand, we enter Suede Phase III, where our most experimental projects lie. Currently, a fab suede shag rug is slow-cooking in our laboratory, smoldering quietly as we amass the tiny pieces it requires. It is slowly constructed from 1-inch by 3-inch rectangles that we mine from a mountain of the very tail-end remainings. The result will be a plush, buttery, cloudy amalgam of shibori suede flaps.
Trust me, I was just as surprised as you are to witness high-end home decor rise from the ashes like a phoenix.
If you think this is as far we take it, you’re forgetting about those awkward bits still lying on the table! Sometimes no bigger than a fingernail, we still can’t bring ourselves to waste it. We always have our mind on the next project they could inhabit. On the horizon, we’ve been dreaming of a leather beaded curtain, created by rolling each piece of leather into a spiral with a hole down the middle.
For the pieces that are really too small for even this project, we shred the final roll-over to a uniform confetti and - you’d never believe it - it makes a squishy, satisfyingly weighty pillow stuffing.
So the next time your feet lead you into our shop, take two moments to examine a suede vest. Envision how many of the leather’s other siblings are in this very room, hiding in smaller forms. And most importantly, imagine a wastebasket with not so much as the smell of leather in it. This suede is a zero post-consumer waste rockstar.
Stay tuned to learn the stories behind other products! Each item we make is interconnected with others like it, building a self-fueling web of inspiration. Better yet, ask us in person! Visit the Concept Shop at Chophouse Row, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.