♑ GOAT - DOES SIZE MATTER?
The frequent questions or better the frequent “objections” that designers have regarding the use of goat skins is the size. “Only 5-6 feet?”, “Where do I cut?” Certainly size matters but it matters in only some situations. First of all ask yourself some simple questions: What am I making? Sandals, boots, SLG, bags? What patterns am I going to cut? Where do these goats come from? What would the yield look like in this or that case scenario? In my opinion, before you exclude goats from your material purchase you must have a reason. Why? Because many goats have an amazing grain, an amazing hand feel and they are so into fashion that all major French and Italian brands go out of their way to use goat instead of calf whenever it is possible!
Over pigmented goats are the norm in the leather business, Indian and Pakistani tanneries are full of these plastic looking goats. If they keep them too natural, without sanding, over coating with paint/plasters or other artifacts then a huge array of defects appear making the goat completely uncuttable even in the case of sandals. Fact is that goat raw hides with origins such as Madras, Nigeria, Ethiopia are quantity driven but not quality driven in terms of hides. The countries, where people eat more goat meat, happen also to be countries where the animals are kept and fed not in controlled conditions. Therefore, just as a rule of thumb, what we call an A grade goat skin suitable for slight pigmentation in the handbag industry is roughly only 4% of the total raw hide slaughtered in the Madras region. This translates into the price of high quality goats for the luxury handbag industry hitting sky high records in the past few years. Prices hover between 5 to 8 euro a foot and in this particular industry the Italians and French are dominating. Tanneries such as Julien, Falco, Antiba, Russo di Cassandrino and a handful of others basically monopolize the high-end handbag industry. Italians don’t say “We tan goats” instead they say “We are making poetry” since almost all the mid level goat tanneries in Europe have already closed down. Very different from the Italian production of calf leather, the vast majority of which (especially in Arzignano) is well within the world mainstream…
Think about it. If you want to cut a nice handbag and the skin is only 5 or 6 feet then it just takes 2 or 3 small defects placed in the center of the goat and that ruins everything. You just don’t know where to cut your panel and you end up wasting a lot of skins and a lot of money. Hence I always feel designers in Asia are very afraid to use goats for that very reason especially in the handbag industry. Much better for small leather goods, sandals and women shoes that do not have big patterns like boots or booties. So remember, goats make for fantastic leather, you just need to keep in mind what you are doing and where the goats come from so to be sure the quality fits the pattern. The origin but most important of all the tannery is a very good indication for a quality goat and that said we can conclude that size doesn’t really matter that much! Of course the yield will never be as good as a calf especially on the bigger patterns but don’t let that stop you. Make a realistic assessment and don’t preclude your collection from one of the most amazing materials on the market, goat skins.