Making a Luxurious 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 very 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.

The color was carefully chosen to work with the client’s favorite wardrobe stables.  Her style is casual luxe and this alligator 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 exotic garment like this alligator skin vest 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).

To make sure that only the finest parts of the grain made up this alligator skin vest a total of 13 of these tiny little skins were ordered.

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.  The rareness of the skins, the amount of hand craftsmanship, the amount of skill and care that is required to make a garment or an accessory in exotic skins is far beyond standard leather working skills.

This is why fine alligator garments,  like this one,  are so exclusive.  And a garment like this alligator skin vest  – which is not only custom designed and made –  the skins themselves are created only for this one garment. 

So it is truly one-of-a-kind in all respects.  You simply can’t find this type or caliber of work anywhere else in the world.  At any price…. 

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