Bench & Loom Background

Chapal, FranceTitle

As its business grew in the 19th Century from its base in central France – where it still operates from the original building today – a tannery in Brooklyn, New York, was even established for a time.

At the onset of the First World War, when the potential of airplanes was only just beginning to be understood and countries were scrambling to mount the first air forces, the French Army commissioned Chapal to create the first-ever pilot uniform. Since then, with a reputation as the leading leatherworks in the world, Chapal has been commissioned to create products for a variety of prestigious fashion labels and brands. More recently, it’s been asked to create the leather interiors and luggage for a special edition automobile for Jaguar, as well as collaborations with Bugatti.

Today, Chapal is run by a seventh generation member of the original founding family who guides the firm with the same principals that have always set Chapal apart: tradition, craftsmanship and unfailing quality.

The hides are first vegetable tanned, an ancient organic procedure whose required age-processing is highly time-intensive but results in superior leather. Then, only finished hides that are flawless are selected, cut and sewn into garments bearing the Chapal name. All of this is done by hand in the Chapal workshop by craftsmen steeped in traditional methods, many times using tools that haven’t changed in a hundred years.

This multi-step process definitely takes longer and costs more than mass-produced leather goods (for example, it can take 12 hides and nearly 100 hours to create one mid-length leather coat) but the result is a garment unlike any other in the world.