When we think leather, we think Kate Moss and Johnny Depp and pretty much anyone else in the high-fashion and entertainment industry. While leather may be the unofficial uniform of the modern-day rebel, but the iconic material has had a very practical start, dating back to centuries. Its rich history spans its incarnation from the 1550s as a water bag to its presence as leather jackets for soldiers in WWI. It’s easy to see how versatile leather is!
Intricately clad on a shop door in Vigo Street in Mayfair, London is crocodile-printed leather. The splendid Vienna Black Gold design was custom-made using black faux crocodile and a gold base, a magnificently striking balance that’s a fitting entrance for one of world’s leading luxury leather goods Alma.
The bespoke leather maker was founded in 1938, and produces a full range of bespoke commissions, from compact accessories to personalized laptop cases, suede cushions, travel accessories, leather coasters and keyrings – to even more extravagant requests such as a beautifully handcrafted moulded-leather walls, or a crocodile gold bag, or skirting created for Britain’s leading luxury property developers, Christian and Nick Candy. Alma’s most esteemed clients include names such as Donna Karan, Ian Schrager and Giorgio Armani.
Some of Alma’s bespoke furniture is predominantly popular; this ranges from luxury leather sofas and chairs to tables. One particular client requested in four colors of stingray, for which they paid a whooping $10,000.
All of Alma’s work is carried out on its 1,500sq meter workshop in Whitechapel, East London. It’s the very same place that houses an extensive library of 100 styles of leather in 700 colors. Generally, bespoke furniture takes about six to eight weeks in the making, while smaller pieces take as little as 48 hours.
Visitors at the Vigo Street studio will find some of Alma’s more phenomenal creations cocooning the interiors, including a bespoke leather staircase, and bannister decked in 60 custom-stained silver-grey stingray skins; a luxury bathroom clad with wall-to-wall leather cutout tiles; a kitchen floor in luxury crocodile-print leather, and dumbbells wrapped in leather. Feeling instantly at home, you’ll want to stay there forever, browsing the luxury furniture, admiring the sublimely surfaces.
One of Alma’s most impressive project remains to be the Qatar National Convention Center, one of world’s most sophisticated structure that put Doha on the map as an extraordinary event destination. The multicolored structure is said to be the world’s first leather-clad architectural marvel. The $1.2 billion project involves 7,500 individually cut mosaic pieces, all handcrafted at Alma’s Whitechapel workshop.
Designed by renowned Japanese architect Arata Isozaki., the Qatar National Convention Center resembles two intertwined trees reaching up to support the exterior canopy. The design is a beacon of learning and comfort in the desert and a harbor for poets and scholars who gathered beneath its branches to share knowledge.
Alma has built a coveted reputation for sourcing the finest leather from across the globe. It has a diverse collection of over 100 different types of leather at any given time. A team of specialists advice on a range of bespoke designs, applications and finishes. The Vigo Street studio serves both private and corporate clients, bringing a wealth of unmatched leather goods to retail, fashion, transport, hospitality and other sectors.
It’s inventive and resourceful team is familiar with the intricacies that involve leather applications. At Alma, you’ll learn which skins are hard wearing, and which are more malleable. You’ll learn about recommendations for paneling and apparel. Or what is the best way to emboss, finish and embellish on leather, and this includes some of the antiquated techniques to more pioneering ones.
Alma can make pretty much anything a client wants. One women came in looking for pieces for her homes in Aspen and Florida. She loved some of Alma’s suede skins so much she requested for them to be made into a skirt, designed after the one she was wearing. She returned to her hotel in Mayfair, only to return the next afternoon to request for two more to be made for her, and have them delivered the next day.
The London-based studio has enjoyed a moment among world’s niche fashion brands. The style, for its exclusivity, is extremely tricky to construct. The technique is time-intensive and quite difficult to perfect. It’s scarce even among heavyweight luxury brands of today.