Things are heating up in the exotic leather industry, especially where handbags are concerned. In recent years, top-end fashion houses have been working to acquire crocodile farms and tanneries that specialize in the production of crocodile leathers.
Why are Fashion Houses Buying up Crocodile Skin Production?
The short answer is because demand for handbags and other accessories made from exotic hides is up.
In fact, according to a Bloomberg.com article, “Exotic animal skins make up almost 10 percent of total revenue from handbag sales for luxury brands, at least double their share a few years ago.” In 2012, the luxury accessories market (handbags, etc.) was worth an estimated $77 billion. With crocodile handbags selling for dozens of times as much as simple cow leather products, it is little wonder that the big fashion houses want to gain control of crocodile skin production for themselves to ensure a steady supply.
Take into account the fact that many top-of-the-line fashion houses have a waiting list for their exotic leather products that is several years long, and the potential value of crocodile handbag sales could be even higher than originally estimated.
Even used, these handbags can go for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What’s the Difficulty in Getting the Skins Needed?
The top luxury fashion houses have reputations to maintain. With products such as handbags, large panels of skin have to be used to ensure a top-quality appearance. This means using the skin of more mature animals, as younger crocs may not be large enough to use for handbags.
However, this presents another problem, as these large skins also need to be in pristine (Grade I) condition in order to be useful for handbags. What makes getting large Grade I skins difficult is the fact that crocodiles are aggressive animals. In the wild, finding an adult crocodile with no scratches or scars in its hide would be nothing short of a miracle, so the primary source for these animals is from special crocodile farms.
Even in a crocodile farm, producing a large, pristine hide can be very difficult. Crocodiles need to be kept separated from one another to prevent fights that could cause damage to their skins, and crocodiles have to be placed on a strict feeding routine to ensure that their skin is top-quality. Pools require frequent cleaning and maintenance to prevent infections and disease from causing harm to the animals. As Stefan van As says in his interview with Bloomberg, “one cannot expect to harvest a first-grade skin from an animal which has been abused.”
It can take several years to raise a crocodile from an egg to a full adult. This is a hefty investment and can yield a poor return for the farmers if the skins can’t be sold in top condition. For many would-be farmers, the costs and challenges of raising the animals for several years may not be equal to the reward of the final sale. This leads to fewer farmers producing crocodile hides, making finding a reliable source of skins more difficult.
Buyers of high-end fashion products demand nothing less than the best, so the fashion houses themselves will only take the best quality hides from farms. This makes getting the skins needed to produce high-fashion items even more difficult.
Between the inherent danger of raising a crocodile, the difficulty in keeping the animals from fighting each other, and all of the special care involving water, food, diet, and general health , it is easy to see why finding a pristine, grade I crocodile skin is as rare and difficult as finding a flawless diamond.
Providing Top Quality
The top fashion houses only accept the best quality, and Pan American Leathers has been serving the needs of major fashion houses for decades. However, we have maintained our independence, allowing us to provide the same top-quality hides that fashion houses demand to everyone because we aren’t owned by any fashion house.
Learn how you can get your own top-quality exotic leather today!