Working with leather isn’t new for Montblanc. The brand has been crafting leather goods for almost 100 years. Starting in 1926, leather was the second product category the brand entered into, beating timepieces by 71 years. They were modest, if completely logical, beginnings. Leather was the preferred material to complement their iconic pens: cases to protect them, and leather-bound notebooks to write in.
But as the brand has grown, so too has the scope of their leather division. In mid-2013, the company welcomed both Jerome Lambert as CEO and Zaim Kamal as the Head of Leather. While Lambert oversees all of Montblanc, Kamal works on leather design specifically. The two collaborate to elevate and redefine the brand’s offering. “Leather is a category that underlines the tactility of the brand,” says Kamal. “Watches and writing instruments are more about functionality and the movement that go inside. Leather is tactile, the kind of mysterious part of the brand, the emotional part. Watches also have the emotion, but leather is really about the touch, the feel, the beauty, the flow.”
The brand’s latest leather collection, Meisterstück Sfumato, embodies all four of those characteristics, with soft leather beautifully rendered in classic lines, and finished with the hand-painted technique it’s named after. A collection like this shows how Lambert and Kamal are creating goods that marry form and function, but it also wouldn’t be possible without expert craftsmanship.
“Leather is a strong style carrier because the object is much larger than all the other ones, it’s more visible than a wristwatch or a pen,” explains Lambert. And that’s just it — while you know Montblanc for its watches and pens, you probably don’t notice those on the street. It will be the bags that will draw you in, just like they planned.
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HOW TO KEEP LEATHER IN GOOD SHAPE
Protect: Leather is a skin, so it’s never going to be totally waterproof, but you can get a bit of weather protection. Beeswax cream usually works better than those sprays the shoe store tried to sell you— though it can discolour, so be sure to test on a small area before applying to the whole thing. And if your untreated leather does happen to get wet (what, you didn’t have an umbrella with you?), wipe down with a soft, dry cloth, and then air dry — blasting it with a hairdryer will just cause the leather to become misshapen as it dries.
Clean: Saddle soap was originally created, you guessed it, to clean horse saddles, and it’ll work on your jacket, too. Use a dry cloth and work the soap until it lathers. Rub on the dirty areas, and then use a separate, lightly damp cloth to wipe away any excess soap. Repeat as needed, and remember that any hardware may require separate products to get them clean. If spot treatments aren’t going to cut it, it’s probably best to look up your closest reputable professional.
Store: Different leather items require different storage methods, but in general, they should be covered up if you’re tucking them away. Some items need help keeping their shape when not in use — stuff bags with newspaper, and invest in wooden shoe trees for your kicks. And give the items space to breathe. You wouldn’t want your skin touching someone else’s for six months straight.