Interview with IMKE DISSELHOFF about sustainable leather and her bags - the wearness
  • WHY I DO, WHAT I DO - TALKING TO IMKE DISSELHOFF

    Imke Disselhoff Taschen

    The label DISSELHOFF stands for pure leather accessories that are manufactured with the greatest respect for people and animals. And therefore also for the life behind the raw material. We talk to Imke Disselhoff, the founder and Designer of the label.

    WHICH FACTORS DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO WHEN CHOOSING LEATHER? 
    It is very important to me that the selection of my leather does not support factory farming. And to say it right away: I would prefer that no animals were slaughtered at all. But as long as meat is eaten, I think it is only okay if you buy local organic meat and re-use the leather in the best pos-sible way.
    Nearly 100% of the hides processed by European tanneries are by-products of the food indus-try. If the tanning industry would not exist, the food industry would have to dispose of them. For me, leather processing is the most sensible way of recycling to create durable products that ve-gan leather alternatives cannot compete with. 

    Imke Disselhoff
    Imke Disselhoff, the founder and designer of Disselhoff


    WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT THE LEATHER YOU USE? 
    The leather I use exclusively comes from animals that are kept in Germany under strict organic guidelines.I like to say: These animals do not necessarily have a longer, but therefore a much more pleasant life. They are not only kept in Germany, but also slaughtered in the immediate vi-cinity under strict organic guidelines. Afterwards the hides are tanned in Southern Germany. The complete production process is thus limited to one country.

    Bio Kühe

    APART FROM ANIMAL WELFARE, DOES THIS ALSO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN QUALITY? 
    You can immediately make out the difference and see as well as smell and feel it. 
    I use a nappa leather. This is basically the upper layer of the leather, with the natural grain and pores. The leather is vegetable tanned with tara, without the addition of chrome. The Tara tanning agent is obtained from the fruit pods of the small Tara tree, which is mainly from wild stocks. Dur-ing the harvest, which is an important source of income for the rural population of Peru, the trees are not damaged.
    In the commercial sector, the leather is usually embossed with an artificial structure to hide blem-ishes and of course to ensure that every bag looks the same afterwards. In addition, the surface is sealed with synthetic materials.
    With my leather this is different. It can have small scars, scratches or insect bites. Of course, we try not to place these natural features in the middle of the bag. But overall, I want to achieve that you realize through these small visible "flaws" that the animal was simply allowed to graze on the meadow. I would like to contribute that this is not seen as a depreciation but as a sign of individ-ual quality.

    WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VEGAN LEATHER ALTERNATIVES? 
    I think it's great that a lot is happening in this area. Before I founded my label, I worked for many years in the commercial sector as a bag designer and worked a lot with imitation/vegan leather. A lot has changed in terms of appearance and especially the texture. 

    However, one must not forget that vegan leather is "plastic". No matter what material the imitation leather is made of, chemical binders and coatings are always necessary. A crucial point, which clearly speaks for the use of real leather, is the fact that vegan alternatives cannot compete with the durability of real leather. 

    The coating quickly comes off or tears. I don't believe in vegan materials. 
    Especially since there's leather on the market anyway. It doesn't make sense for me to dispose of these accumulating skins or to leave them unused to produce something else artificially. 
    People have been wrapping themselves in leather since the beginning of our time, 170,000 years to be precise. It is therefore one of the oldest crafts of mankind. Surely it should be possible to achieve a responsible handling in the meantime. 

    YOU LIVE IN BASEL, CAN YOU NAME THREE SUSTAINABLE HOTSPOTS? 
    Yes, I'm German and somehow I ended up just over the border in Switzerland, in beautiful Basel. 
    Overall, Basel is a very exciting city, with an incredible cultural offering. There are great little shops that offer sustainable products from small labels such as Riviera, the Marinsel or Stoff&Brot.

    READ MORE ABOUT DISSELHOFF AND DISCOVER OUR SELECTION OF DISSELHOFF BAGS HERE.

     

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