Meet the people behind our shoes
Timo Leppänen knows leather. He has worked for Pomarfin and with leather for 46 years! Timo was fifteen when he started. He had just finished school and begun a summer job on a construction site when his uncle, Toivo Leppänen came by his house. When Toivo sat down with Timo’s parents for a coffee and heard about the summer job, he offered him a job at his shoefactory right away. So Timo started working at Pomarfin clicking department and has worked there for nearly half a century. You woudn’t believe this by looking at him. In August 2016 this athletic guy won all his younger Pomarfin team mates in a yearly running event Kahe Silla run!
1981 Toivo promoted Timo and he became the head of the whole clicking department and leather warehouse. Together with purchasing he is charge of the quality of Pomar leathers. He makes shure that leather used is fit for Pomar shoes and our Nordic climate. Leather is a natural product and the most important material in a shoe factory. To find suitable leather and a reliable leather producer for a Pomar product is a complex job which needs deep understanding of the material and shoemaking. Timo with his amazing experience for shure is the right man for the job!
What quality leather is all about and what kind of leather is needed for GORE-TEX shoes? Timo is the right person to tell us.
-Good quality rawhide is where it all starts, explains Timo. You cannot make good leather out of poor rawhide, that’s a fact. And only a well-kept animal produces a quality rawhide. The best come from Europe, but today it’s a rare commodity. Rawhide is a by-product of food industry, and as meat consumption decreases so does the available amount of rawhide on the market. Leather is nowadays very much a product in demand worldwide and all parts of leather are utilised by various industries. People in emerging economies want more and more cars with leather upholstered seats and leather sofas, this affects the rawhide market in a massive way. Even cosmetic companies use leather as a source of certain fats.
-Then comes the tanning. Each tannery has their own way of making leather and they are specialized on certain leather types. Tanning is a complex process which starts from salted rawhide and involves steps like skiving, dyeing, drumming and finishing. It is also a vulnerable process, any small change can make a huge impact on finished leather. A top producer knows this and can adapt its process to ensure product’s quality. We only work with reliable tanneries that are committed to quality and long term relations with their customers. It’s very important to visit the tanneries and know the people who make the leather for us, tells Timo. He frequently visits tanneries to inspect leather lots ready to be shipped and to instruct how Pomar leather should be made. It’s also more and more important that our leather is made as environmentally sound way as possible. One fine example of our suppliers is the German Heinen Company with their TERRACARE leather which is used in many Pomar styles.
-Good quality shoe leather is soft, but also firm and it needs to be somewhat elastic too. It doesn’t have loose grain and the surface of the leather recovers its look after wear. Suede needs to be firm, soft, even on the surface and its colours deep. For GORE-TEX products the leather is made in a special way. Every new leather type is tested by W.L. Gore Ltd for waterproofness and breathability. GORE-TEX leather cannot absorb water for the minimum of two hours, it has to be waterproof. With GORE-TEX shoes you can actually stand in water for two hours with dry feet, no problem! But what makes it complex, it that GORE-TEX leather needs to be breathable too. There are not too many tanneries which can make this kind of leather, says Timo.