Charles F. Stead : A centurion in English tannery
Charles F. Stead (CFS) ‘s name rings familiar in the leather industry. With a history of more than 110 years (founded in the 1900s), Charles F. Stead is a quality-assured company serving as a constant partner for top-tier brands.
Talking about shoes means tracing a very long path of history. Started as mere basic needs, climbed onto social status attributes, and finally transformed into essential parts of people’s lifestyle. One of the materials that are prominent in shoemaking is leather. TXTURE remains consistent in using leather as an attempt to maintain the classic spirit with a blend of contemporary styles.
TXTURE has selected and been a customer of Charles F. Stead for the last ten years for its excellent quality leather and limited collection. By still maintaining traditional techniques combined with advanced technology, Charles F. Stead has become the world’s leading leather company.
Recently, we got in touch with Andrew and David Bailey of CFS and enquired about their perspectives on the company, leather, and fashion. Here’s the gist of our conversation with Andrew and David from CFS.
About the use of leather in fashion
We are aware that the use of leather holds a special place in the fashion industry, particularly at the high-end level. Apparently, the Charles F. Stead team shared the same belief. “This is for one main reason, that leather continues to outperform the alternatives in terms of aesthetics, durability, versatility, and repairability,” they concluded. One of the notable Indonesian fashion designers said that his favorite smell was leather because it smells of luxury in an interview. This is proof that leather has been strongly associated as a quality material that has been exclusively selected for the best since long ago.
About quality leather
When enquired regarding quality leather, Charles F. Stead claimed that producing the best quality product requires the best of everything: the best hides, the best oils, the best dyes, and finishes – complemented by the patience and skill to do what is required to produce the very best leathers possible. This requires constant care and attention. To their mind, the best leathers are also the most natural, making the most of a beautiful natural material without trying to hide it under pigments or generating an artificial uniformity. Charles F. Stead treats leathers as one would to a fine piece of hardwood, using only natural oils and waxes to enhance the natural character of the leather, rather than covering it with a heavy finish which detracts from this character and results in an “ordinary” leather.
For your information, Charles F. Stead is best known for being the producer of the highest quality suedes globally, such as Janus Calf, Repello, and Super Buck suedes, making up a large part of their business. Charles F. Stead has also developed an interesting range of specialist leathers, such as the Kudu antelope, unique to Steads, which continue to grow in popularity, particularly among high-grade footwear producers. Some of these articles can be found on leather options at TXTURE.
About sustainable products
Nowadays, people’s awareness in regards to sustainable products has been rising that they tend to choose brands and manufacturers that pay attention and care to the natural ecosystem. When we asked about the awards Charles F. Stead received for their sustainable products, Andrew humbly stated that for their long history and consistency in making quality leather products, Charles F. Stead has been lucky to receive a number of awards along the way. As for sustainability, Charles F. Stead thinks the word itself is not a fad – it is about producing the highest quality leathers that go into the highest quality products that will last customers for many years. Ultimately, there is no more sustainable shoe than a good-year welted construction in high-grade natural materials that can be worn and repaired for decades. This is infinitely more sustainable than an “eco” shoe made from recycled bottle caps (for example) that ends up being thrown away after 12 months.
About leather products made in the UK and elsewhere
Historically, the use of leather is evident in all parts of the globe. Along with its development, each community has its unique operation, both in the process and the final product. We enquired about what is distinctive in leather companies from the UK that differs them from those of other countries. The obvious comparison to make is between England and Italy, both in the production of leathers and in the production of finished products. In both cases, English production tends to focus more heavily on integrity and quality of materials and construction and less on finishing and design. In terms of leathers, the focus in England is on the wet process and the raw materials as opposed to a ‘fancy finish’. The same is true of the footwear, with the UK generally producing more traditional and conservative styles, but with a significant focus on the quality of construction and underlying materials.
About Indonesia and TXTURE
Despite the fact that Charles F. Stead has not had time to visit Indonesia and learn more about its leather production, they are aware that there are some skilled craftsmen and shoemakers working here.
We also asked his opinion on TXTURE. To quote, he said,
“I have a lot of respect for the production at TXTURE. Their philosophy is much like our own – taking the best natural, interesting leathers and using traditional skills and techniques to make a product that stands out from the crowd, with apparent quality and craftsmanship.”
Our collaboration with Charles F. Stead goes beyond quality products that have been proven. It also serves as a form of appreciation for a story has that exceeded a hundred years. We acknowledge that there must be countless dynamics and ups and downs that occurred along the way throughout such a period of time. It takes incredible dedication and high consistency for a company to survive and stand out in the eyes of the world, something we aspire to have.
Photo courtesy: Charles F Stead