If you’re on this site, something about caiman skin appeals to you, whether you’re an aficionado of caiman skin or a designer or manufacturer looking for a supplier. However, you might not be a veteran caiman skin buyer just yet. Perhaps you’re just starting or you’re looking for more information regarding how you might go about purchasing caiman skin. We’re here to help.
Belly or Hornback?
Caiman skin is available in two different cuts: belly and hornback. When you order belly, you get a skin that is cut down the back so you get the smoother, softer underside of the caiman skin. When you order hornback, you get skin that is cut down the front so you get the more rigid topside of the skin with the bones running from the head to the tail. For the most part this is a purely aesthetic decision based on your design preferences. Although, the hornback does tend to be slightly less expensive than the belly.
What Are The Grading Standards?
Next you need to consider grade. Pan American Leathers does not grade the tail or head – we grade only on the belly or back depending on the cut of the skin. The grades are as follows:
- Grade I: No defects on the belly/back
- Grade II: Some defects on the belly/back
- Grade III: Many defects on the belly/back
Defects are commonly holes, scars and scratches. A common misconception is that if you buy a lower grade skin, your finished products will have defects on the skin. This is not the case. A manufacturer experienced in working with caiman skin will cut around the defects so that your finished product will only include defect-free panels.
Grade I/II caiman skin usually makes watchstraps, handbags of various sizes, large accessories and boots. Grade II/III caiman skin is usually used in shoes, small wallets and accessories.
Sizing is also important to the buying process. Caiman skin is measured in centimeter width at the widest point of the belly/back. You can use either inside measure which is the measure between the inside bone on each side of the skin, or outside measure which is the measure from edge to edge. Inside measure is approximately 85% of outside measure.
Depending on width of the skin, you’ll be able to make different goods using the various grades of the caiman skin. For skins 20-29 cm (inside measure), you can make watchstraps, shoes, boots and small to medium-sized accessories. From 30+ cm, you can make medium to large-sized handbags, boots, belts, and larger wallets.
For simplicity sake, here are the typical sizes used for a few popular caiman skin products:
- Small clutches: 25/29 cm inside measure
- Men’s wallets: 28/32 cm inside measure
- Boots: 32/36 cm outside measure
In general terms, the most expensive caiman skin is the large grade I skins. The least expensive are the smallest, lowest grade. Another small price consideration is what color and finish you’ll be applying to the caiman skin. Will you need a specialty finish like a metallic, pearl or iridescent? Do you want a light color like yellow, pink or white? These types of products typically have small surcharges attached to them, as it is more work.
If you have any more questions or would like to price out some skins for a project you’re working on, feel free to contact us. We’re ready to help!
Just like everything else that you buy, there are various factors that can affect the price of caiman skin. Mostly, it’s about supply and demand. However, there are other considerations that you’ll need to take into account when you’re shopping for caiman skin.
Raw Material Factors
In normal market conditions, the most influential supply and demand variables affecting the price of caiman skin are grade and size. The 30+ cm (inside measure between the bones) skins with the fewest defects are the most sought after for handbags, large accessories, etc.; yet they are the hardest to come by. The larger the skin, the older the animal and thus the more it endured (scars, scratches, bites from fighting, feasting and general wear). So skins that are large in size are rarely in pristine condition. The ones that are command top dollar in the marketplace.
In the case that caiman skin needs to be made to order, the number of skins ordered per product will greatly affect the price. A lot of the work that goes into producing caiman skin is set up, like mixing chemicals or dyes, setting water temperatures, etc. Whether the tannery makes one caiman skin or 100 skins, the set up time is about the same. As a result, tanneries will typically apply substantial surcharges for smaller orders.
Quantities aside, some colors and finishes cost more to produce. For example, basic finishes like matte and glazed are typically the least expensive. On the other hand, specialty finishes that require more work, expensive chemicals or additional materials command a higher price. For example, a caiman skin with pearlized finishes requires chemicals that are very expensive and time consuming to apply versus the materials required to finish a matte skin. These types of costs are passed through to the customer, but they are relatively small compared to the other factors affecting price.
Just remember to keep these factors in mind when you’re buying your caiman skin, as these factors (and more) can move prices. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!
Some of you might be interested in learning a bit about the tanning process for our caiman skin. Tanning is essentially the transition of a raw skin into a leather, without which the skin would be susceptible to decomposition and bacteria. The process involves these steps:
- Dry salting as a preservative measure
- Beamhouse operations:
- Soaking to clean the skins
- Liming to descale them
- Deliming to raise the acidity
- Pickling to remove bone matter
- Chrome tanning to convert the material into inorganic material
- Shaving to degrease and thin out the leather
- Re-tanning to re-soften the leather for working
- Drying (either by hang-drying or by toggling)
- Dry cleaning
- Shaving to prepare the leather for the product
- Applying the finishing touches
The Beginning Steps
When we receive the skins from the suppliers, they're boardy and extremely susceptible to the elements. They arrive salted which removes the moisture from the skins and preserves them until we can work them. The first stage of the process is the beaming. First, we soak the caiman skin in water to clean them, remove the salt, and rehydrate the skin so that we can begin working them.
The Tanning Process
After that we move onto liming, which removes scales, nails, mucins, natural greases and fats. It also splits the fibers and makes the collagen in the skin workable. Next, we delime the skin to raise the acidity after the liming lowers it. The next phase is the pickling which is an acid bath that helps break down the bones and calcium in the caiman skin so that it is more pliable. After the pickling process comes the chrome bath which makes the skin durable and no longer susceptible to the elements. Once this is done, it is no longer an organic skin; it has become inorganic leather.
After this, we re-tan the caiman skin, this time using vegetable-based products. This is done so that the tougher skin that results from the initial tanning process is made supple again. From there, we dye the caiman skin, shave it down to the required thickness for the application, and then either hang-dry or "toggle" (which uses a special type of oven to evaporate the water) to remove the water and humidity. Lastly, we finish the caiman skin with seasons and protective coats so that it feels good, looks good, and is protected from the elements. From there, it goes onto the manufacturer where they turn it into the footwear, furniture, handbags, etc. that you're all familiar with.
That is the basic overview of our caiman skin tanning process, and we hope that it has been both informative and interesting to you. If you have any questions about anything in here, please feel free to comment below, and if you have any other inquiries, don't hesitate to contact us.
If you’ve been reading our blog, the information is fresh in your mind on how we tan the caiman skin you use in your products as well as how to select a skin for your needs. However, you might be wondering where you go about buying caiman skins. We sell them, certainly; but you might be wondering about other options and what they offer you. We’re not the only providers of caiman skin. So below, we lay out the caiman skin supply landscape for you.
Distributors are exactly what it sounds like: they buy skins from tanneries, warehouse them and distribute them to buyers. They keep a large stock on hand which is convenient for a buyer in a time crunch. However, for them to make money, they have to mark it up and charge you higher prices.
Also, their selection is limited. If you’re looking for a specific caiman skin that they don’t have, you’re out of luck—or you’ll need to go with a caiman skin you didn’t really want. Even if the distributor can source you what you want, it’ll typically be at a premium price with long deliveries and often doesn’t come out exactly how you want. When you buy directly from us, you cut out the middleman, eliminating the distributor mark up and allowing yourself the product flexibility and direct communication that you need.
We’re not the only tannery in the market for caiman skin. However, we are one of the only tanneries processing caiman skin in the USA. As caiman skin is classified as a wildlife product, it’s subject to both US Customs and the Fish and Wildlife review which can take time. As a result, deliveries from foreign caiman skin tanneries are commonly several months. On the other hand, we tan and finish our skins here in the United States, which means that we can ship domestically with less delay while still fully complying with all US Fish and Wildlife requirements, including full documentation and proper tagging. That means much faster deliveries without cutting corners. Communication is easy and clear as there are less time zone complications and no language barrier. In addition, we can provide much better service. For example, we can work with customers in person to develop product lines and make product adjustments in a matter of days.
A few of these South American caiman skin tanneries do work through local distributors to service the American market. However, this creates many of the same issues described in the Distributors section above.
Your manufacturer will sometimes offer to source the caiman skin for you. This is a good option because they know exactly what they need to make what your products. Make sure that they don’t overbuy so they can be less diligent about the cutting. Because then you end up paying for more skin than you actually needed. In addition, make sure that they actually have experience in working with caiman skin. Just because they work with leather or even other crocodiles, doesn’t mean they are equipped for caiman skin production. Caiman skin is bonier than most other leathers so it requires specific machinery, training and experience.
With that said, we respect our competitors very much. They are good at what they do and have been a positive force in our industry for a long time. We simply want you to know why we believe we can serve you better.
If you’ve been reading our blog, you’ve probably noticed a lot of information regarding caiman skins popping up recently. That’s because we’ve been working on a guide for you, so that you can keep the information on your eBook reader while you’re searching for skins for your next project! Hopefully this will help with the process of selecting and purchasing the skins!
Caiman Skin Tanning
Are you aware of all the work that goes into producing the skins? From the farms to the tanneries, we outline what the caiman skins go through to get them ready to make the handbags, belts, boots and wallets that you want to make. We’ve got the steps outlined so that you can see what we do to the caiman skin and how we can help you find the right leather for your needs.
Buying and Selecting Caiman Skin
What kind of project are you working on? You’ll need a different skin for a handbag than you might need for a belt. Do you want hornback or belly skin? What style do you need for your project? The various cuts, sizes and finishes are things that you should be paying attention to while you’re making your plans.
Where Should You Buy Your Caiman Skin From?
If you know how the skins are made and the different varieties of skins that you’ll need, then you’re aware of the basics, but do you know where you can buy them? We sell them, of course, but there are other tanneries that you can choose from. There are distributors and other sources that you’ll need to look into before you can make the best decision for your project. We’ve got information on those other sources so that you can go into the process with the knowledge you’ll need to succeed!
What Affects The Price?
Many factors contribute to the price of caiman skin. Some of these factors have to do with your preferences and some have to do with the environment, the market and the work that goes into the skin. We’ve got that information for you as well!
If you think you might need this information at your fingertips, be sure to check out our guide. It’s an all-in-one resource for all of this information and more, meaning that you won’t need to be online to get those answers on your screen. Whether you’re new to this industry or a professional who needs a quick reference, this guide is invaluable to you.
If there’s something that this guide didn’t answer for you, however, we’re still here to help. At the bottom of the guide as well as on our site here, we’ve got all of our contact information easily accessible to you so that if you need any assistance with the skins, you’ve got a line to us. So, don’t hesitate—download the guide today!
People have incredible creative skills. Over the course of history, we’ve made a large amount of things from some of the strangest materials ever. Sewing used to be done with needles made of bone, and necklaces and other jewelry have beads made from various woods, stones, and crystals. Needless to say, when it comes to designing fashion accessories, the sky is the limit with the amount of materials we have available to us today.
We wanted to showcase some of those nifty things that have been made from python skins. After all, it’s not called “exotic” because it’s common. But those people who have been using materials in incredibly creative and uncommon ways have also made some nifty things using python skins. We’ve found a few for you to have a look at:
The MJ Python Skin Laptop
One of the fun things we’ve found people doing with all sorts of exotic leathers are laptops. Not laptop bags, as you might imagine. These are full
laptop enclosures that are covered in python skins (as well as crocodile, alligator, and anaconda). The patterns are amazing and show off the beauty of python skin at your job. We like this usage because it shows that while it is a fashion statement, it’s also a practical use of the leather (as it’s far more durable than plastic).
The MJ Python Skin Mouse
Along with the computer skins we showed you in the last section, MJ also made mouse coverings with the python skin that match some of the laptops that they’ve made. We think that this, too, is a nifty use because it again shows the durability. A lot of people use their laptops at work and don’t handle them too often, but the mouse is something you use every minute of the workday. It’s a great use of python leather!
Python Skin HOON Headphones
Sticking with the technology theme, we’ve also found a company that manufactures python skin headphones. We thought this was neat because in this age, headphones can help define an audio product and is easily the most visible part of an audio device. We might not know what kind of audio player you’re using, but we can see your headphones. They’re practical, durable, and most of all they’re great looking!
JungleTribe Python Skin Brassieres
It might be risqué, but it’s certainly an unusual use. Most people want their python skin garments and accessories to show proudly, but using python skin for a bra makes for a very interesting statement, especially for those who do modeling or art photography. It might not be too far removed from the ordinary, but we thought it was certainly worth a mention!
Python Skin Manicure
We saved this one for last because it’s one of the most creative—and unusual—uses for python skin we’ve seen. This woman used python skin for a manicure and it looks great! The texture that it gives her fingernails mixed with the reaction it’s sure to provoke in people is one of the great reasons why we think it’s great. Not only that, but if you’re wearing a python skin dress along with it, it’s the perfect accessory to that outfit.
However, we know that the uniqueness of these products are just the tip. We found five neat and unique things, but we’d bet you’ve got a few ideas of your own. If you want to make those ideas a reality, you should give us a call today! We tan our own leathers and we can help you get started!
Fashion changes almost every minute in this world, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with. That’s why we looked over the world of fashion to see what’s up and coming, especially when it comes to exotic skins. As it so happens, python skin fashion is on its way back in certain markets, and with stunning results. Style.com ran an article recently on some of the new and upcoming fashions that are made from python skin, and we’ve looked through the slideshows to see what trends seem to be making their way into the fashion world. We’ve got a few of them to help give you some ideas on what you can do!
First off, we’re noticing that there are a lot of bright colors going on in the fashion world. Dying python skins is easy to do, especially when you’re a tannery like we are, so it’s no surprise to us that more and more python skin is hitting the market dyed vibrant colors. We’ve seen a lot of yellow, purple, and other vibrant—and distinctly not python-colored shades rocking the runways.
You can incorporate these colors into your own designs as well, thanks to our own services! We’ve got plenty of skins available, and we can dye and bleach them to whatever color you need. So, if you’ve got a handbag project you’re working on and you want it to be bright purple, have no fear—it can be done.
Python Skin Accents
Another thing we’re noticing is that a lot of the current fashion that uses python skin use it as accents to garments made primarily from another material. Think tweed jackets with python-skin elbow patches or dresses with python skin segments around the torso. Using small patches to create visual pop to an otherwise ordinary dress not only spruces up the fashion but can help keep costs down versus doing a whole dress in python.
Call Us Today!
These are just a few of the big things we noticed—there are bound to be new trends right around the corner! If you need help with any of the python skin fashions listed here, we can get you started. Just give us a ring and we’ll help you through the process of selecting, ordering, and getting your project ready!
If you’ve been following our blog you might have noticed a wealth of information regarding python skin, how they’re tanned, purchased, and other details that you want to know as a buyer. We’re pleased to announce that we’ve built a brand new, comprehensive guide using this content that you can download to your tablet or computer. Hopefully, this will make your buying process easier as you can keep the information on hand!
Python Skin Tanning
You might know a lot about python skin but do you know how it is made? If you’ve been reading our blog, you just might. In our eBook, we’ve posted the list of steps so that you can see what goes into the leather before the leather gets into your hands. The more you know about this complex process, the better you can market and romance your python skin products!
Buying and Selecting Python Skins
It’s not just tanning that you need to keep in mind, either. Buying and selecting the appropriate skins for your project is no simple task. Do you need grade 1 or grade 2? Is the reticulated python the right choice, or should you go with Burmese? Do you need a metallic finish, or is something more natural the way to go? Should the skin be bleached? These are all things you need to keep in mind.
Where Should You Buy Your Python Skins From?
Besides tanning and selection, the question of where you should buy your skins from is something else to look into. There is always the option of a tannery (which is what we are), but there are other options, as well. Do you need your python skin now, or can it wait a few weeks? How specific are your product needs? What’s your price tolerance? Does where you buy your skins from matter in the long run? Our guide answers those questions and more!
What Affects The Price?
Beyond the simplistic answer of supply and demand, what affects the prices of python skins? Does how they’re acquired affect the price and what events, both manmade and natural, affect the python population? Does the finish increase the price? How about bleaching? All of these are questions you might have about your leather and how it’s sold. We’ve got the answers beyond the easy ones for you.
Download the Guide Today!
If you’d like to have the answers to these questions on hand at all times, we suggest that you download the guide today. It has all the answers that you’re looking for and it should be an invaluable resource in your search for python skin. Whether you’re just starting your first project or in need of a quick resource, we think our eBook can be a great help.
You might also keep in mind that if there’s a question that our eBook doesn’t answer, we’re here to help you in any way that we can. Feel free to give us a call today to get started on your project! Once it’s all done, you’ll be very glad that you did!
We've already given you a good amount of information on how we tan python skin, as it's something we know quite a bit about. We've also given you information on how to select the correct python skin for your project, something that you'll need for your project. But, now that you have all that information, where exactly do you go to buy these skins? We sell them directly, but we're aware that we're not the only option. Here are a few more options for you so that you can make the best decision for yourself.
Distributors of exotic skins (like python) are exactly what you might assume: they buy skins from folks like us and resell them to manufacturers, designers, brands and individuals. They make their money on high-volume sales, so they keep a large stock handy for that purpose. However, thanks to their position as a middleman, the prices will be higher through a distributor.
Because they're depending on marked-up sales in high-volume orders, the selection you typically find at a distributor is limited to the most popular finishes and skins. Because they're premade, you have to take what you get. In some cases, distributors will take custom orders but a lot can be lost in the communication between you, the distributor and the tannery.
Tanneries are one of the biggest parts of the supply chain because they're the producers of the python skin. We're one of them. We are also one of the few remaining independent python skin tanneries not owned by one of the large fashion houses. When you buy from a tannery owned by a fashion house you are essentially buying from a competitor. They have an inherent conflict of interest which is often reflected in higher prices or lackluster service.
Another advantage that we have over our competitors is that we're US-based. Most other python skin tanneries are in Europe or Southeast Asia. Python skin, like other exotic skins, are classified as wildlife product, which means that US Customs officials and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have to do some poking around if the skins are shipped in from overseas, which can delay delivery for a while—up to several months, in some cases. Most of the other tanneries you'll be buying from are outside of the US, subjecting your orders to long wait times. We don't have the same problem as we're based in the US, meaning you get your python skins faster from us.
Your manufacturer can also source python skin for you, meaning that you'll get someone who knows how the products are made and how much skin it will take. However, be aware that sometimes they will overbuy allowing them to be a little less frugal with the skins. Be sure that they're buying what they actually need rather than what they want.
All things considered, we hold our competitors in great esteem. It takes all of us to keep our industry going, and it's wonderful to be in an industry where there are so many talented people.
It takes a fair bit of consideration to purchase python skins, and there are tons of factors on both sides of purchase to deal with. We'd like to let you know about a few of them so that you can make the best purchase you can.
Pricing and Cost Factors
Currently, there are three major factors affecting the price of python skin.
Size of the skin. Python skin is priced per meter length and the price per meter is higher for wider skins. The reason larger skins are more expensive has both supply and demand reasons. On the supply side, larger skins come from larger animals that take longer to grow on the farms so they cost more to house and feed. At the tannery, larger skins require more labor, time in process, chemicals and other materials. On the demand side, the larger skins are used for handbags and garments, which are in very high demand and command a very high price. The sizes available vary widely. As a result, so do the prices.
Size of the order. If the python skin you need isn't available off the rack, you'll need to have us make them to order—something we're willing to do. However, be aware that smaller orders have nearly the same set-up costs as bigger ones, so the price per unit ends up being higher. A small order can cost as much as double a large order of the same product.
Product-related differences. Each product costs a little different to make. For example, a bleached python skin costs a little more than an unbleached skin because of the time and materials required for the additional process of bleaching out the natural markings. Lighter colors also cost more because they require a little more TLC. Iridescent, pearlized finishes; garment finishes and other specialties cost more than basic glazed and matte products. However, these differences are minimal: typically in the 10-20% range.
Other factors. From time to time, other factors arise that can move the price. For example, according to CITES regulations, all python skin traded internationally needs to come from animals grown on farms. This has proven very difficult to enforce and studies show that wild skins have been mixed in with farmed skins. However, recently, fashion houses have taken a stronger position in monitoring the integrity of the skins they are using as it contributes largely to the integrity of their brand. In the short to medium term, this could drive the price of python skins up since there may not be as many legal skins available.
Another recent development that could affect python skin prices is the exploding population of Burmese python in Florida. If the State can organize a way to commercialize this, it could help bring python skin prices down.
These factors are all things you need to be aware of while you're purchasing the skins. If you have any questions or would like to place an order, contact us today for more information!