The Making of a Luxe Alligator Skin Vest

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This is a rough rundown of the process involved in making this alligator skin vest.

I wish I could have gotten to the tannery  to document it from the beginning,  because in this case “Custom Made” covers EVERYTHING.  Including the dying and finishing of the skins (Alligator Mississippiensis), which are raised & finished – by hand- in the USA.

The beautifully supple, top grade baby alligator skins were custom finished & dyed with a natural protein finish that is carefully hand buffed with an agate to a soft and gentle sheen. The amount of sheen is controlled by this process.  There are no acrylics or varnishes that sit on top of the skin.  This is the very same way that Hermés has traditionally finished their skins, but are moving away from because of difficulties finding the skilled hands to finish the volume of skins they use. We will likely see shiny, patent like finishes becoming more & more prevalent in their bags over time because of this.

This color was carefully chosen to work with the client’s favorite wardrobe stables.  Her style is casual luxe and the vest will be worn over jeans and soft sweaters and under a range of coats.  She chose from several design variations, all starting with a collar inspired by my “Harlow” jacket –  (The collar  in my initial sketch) and modified slightly for the final design.

Just the cutting of an alligator garment is a process that takes days.

The skins need to be carefully checked, matched and the pattern pieces fitted like a puzzle onto these very small goods (in this case an average of 14″ square inches per hide of that beautiful belly grain). A mistake can easily cost thousands of dollars at any point and a custom dye lot can never be exactly matched – so you simply don’t want to go there – All this is time very well spent on a piece of this caliber.  The same goes with the construction – everything must be done with utmost care and respect of the materials.

None of this process can be rushed.  This is why fine alligator garments,  like this one,  are so exclusive.  Every piece in a skin like this is strictly one-of-a-kind in all respects.  You can’t find this anywhere else in the world, from any company or designer.  This is It.