Peter Bird, Spire’s managing director is well placed to sense a change in attitudes towards leather. He runs one of the UK’s smaller tanneries, set up in the mid-1800s in Chesterfield, producing high-quality leathers for many different industries. He’s expecting the post pandemic years to be some of the best the company has had since he became MD in 2018.
Pictured: Peter Bird
SPIRE LEATHER IS MADE WITH GENUINE CARE, BORN OF A CRAFTMANSHIP BUILT OVER MORE THAN A CENTURY
Fashion designers and other makers head to Spire, inspired by the huge variety of leathers on display, everything from bovine, to deer (sourced from a local game butcher), to horse and water buffalo, wherever possible from sustainable, traceable sources in the UK. Whether they are looking for a specific leather to be made into floor tiles or other interiors project, a soft horse leather to be made into a skirt or a quirky leather for a pair of bespoke shoes, they all know that Spire leather is made with genuine care, born of a craftmanship built over more
than a century.
Spire’s ‘craft’ tannery ethos, means that it provides the same service and technical know-how to every customer, regardless of whether they are buying a small piece of leather for a one-off fashion assignment or placing a much larger, commercial order.
Peter Bird is seeing a younger, increasingly well-informed consumer who is driven by a desire to buy responsibly, drawn to Spire because their leather is clearly traceable, a by-product of farming or related industry. It is a generation that wants to create something beautiful, long-lasting and sustainable rather than seeing an animal hide disposed of in landfill or burnt. They know that as long as meat is consumed, hides will exist.
The incredible diversity of leather produced in this traditional British tannery sees it supplying for the production of top-quality cricket balls, equestrian straps and gym hand straps. The historical re-enactment community would also be lost without the very specialist leather made by Spire. Motorbike jackets and other British leather goods are also made using the company’s products.
A growing number of local organic farmers are coming to Spire, keen to see the hides left as a by-product of their operations, often specialist breeds, made into an item of their choosing – a leather covered chair, for example. This is something that Peter Bird and his team are keen to support. In the near future the tannery is looking to introduce a range of responsibly produced ‘hair-on’ hides, a practice that has more or less disappeared from the UK, but for which there is growing demand as producers want to ensure that every part of their animal has a use and provides an additional product line to their sales.
On Peter Bird’s busy agenda is the idea for a small range of finished leather items that the tannery will sell directly to the consumer or through bespoke retailers. But one of the projects closest to his heart has been a commitment to reducing the environmental impact of Spire’s operation in recent years. His ambition is to see this culminate in the tannery recycling all of the water it uses.