Scandinavian by nature
On rock faces in the meadows where cows graze today, we can see pictures carved by our hunter ancestors thousands of years ago. Knowledge of fur skins and hide dressing was crucial to their survival. These pictures remind us of a tradition that dates back to the dawn of human existence in Scandinavia tradition.
As the manufacturer of the world’s finest leather, ILS regards itself as the leading perpetuator of this Scandinavian tradition.
So how did ELMO gain this unique position?
One of the main answers is the raw material itself. The cool Nordic climate eliminates many of the parasites that are harmful to animals. Good breeding techniques and large, open grazing pastures without thorny bushes also play a vital role.
However, the most important factor of all is know-how. ILS has collective know-how of tanning and hide dressing, combining ancient expertise with professional cutting-edge technology. This combination enables us to create products of unparalleled quality. Our leather is used for the most exclusive furniture on the market. It provides upholstery with a skin-like softness, bringing us the powerful experience of natural leather that has remained in our heritage since the first humans wrapped their bodies in animal hide at the dawn of time.
The oldest leather found in Sweden is the sheath of a bronze dagger from around 1,100 BC. But the art of making leather from hides and pelts, dates back much further than this. The prehistoric inhabitants of Scandinavia were hunters who discovered the potential for using the hides of the animals they hunted to protect their bodies.
The first tanning techniques
Uncured hides rot if they are left damp, yet become hard when they dry. In order to utilize the hides, our ancestors much have devised a simple tanning technique to transform the hides into leather. They may have used the animal’s natural fat. This method is still used by the Inuits, and by the Tartars on the Asian steppes. By scraping the fat off and then working it in again, the hide’s natural softness is preserved.
Oak bark and alum
Over the centuries, people learned by trial and error how to transform raw hides and pelts into soft, long-lasting leather. Probably without really understanding how, they learned to use vegetable and mineral substances in oak bark and alum to tan the hides and make them soft and durable.
The pharmacist’s discovery
In the 18th century, people began adopting a more scientific approach to the study of tanning methods. In 1853, the Swedish pharmacist Karl Hyltén-Cavallius invented a process based on chromium salts as the active mineral. The method was gradually developed to become practically and industrially viable. Since the late 19th century, chrome tanning has been the most common method for preserving leather. ILS also makes chrome-free leathers, which are tanned with modern synthetic or vegetable tans.
The world’s most versatile natural material
- Leather is hard and durable, but also supple and flexible – like the sole of a shoe.
- Leather is silky smooth and soft – like chamois.
- Leather is resilient and can be bent and stretched millions of times over – like a shoe-upper.
- Leather is tough, soft, hard-wearing and stubborn – like a harness or leash.
- Leather is cool, porous and soft – like a high quality leather chair.
- Leather has an attractive surface and structure, and becomes more beautiful with age.
- Leather can be treated, sewn and adapted to suit many needs and requirements.
- Leather is maybe the best and most versatile natural material there is.
- That’s certainly how we feel at ILS Leather. We manufacture leather for the furniture and automotive industries.
- The highest quality leather that can be produced.
Lover’s tiffs and insect bites
Our leather is manufactured from Scandinavian cowhides. These are the most expensive hides in the world, and also by far the best for making naked, natural upholstery leather that ILS specializes in. We produce three main types of leather: aniline leather, semi-aniline leather, and technical leather. They are dyed through and full-grained.Natural irregularities in the finished leather, such as occasional traces of healed minor cuts and scratches, insect bites and lover’s tiffs, should be regarded as proof of authenticity and quality; the animals were well treated and had good lives.
A nakedness both revealing and authentic
Aniline leather is the most naked leather produced. It is given only a light surface coating to protect it from dirt. Naturally, this bareness reveals all the hide’s natural characteristics, such as neck wrinkles and fat lines, irregularities in the grain structure, porosity and softness and healed minor cuts and scratches. If a leather’s surface does not display these natural variations, you have good reason to suspect that it is not genuine aniline leather. Yet another guarantee of authenticity.
Traces of healed scratches may be visible on aniline and semi-aniline leather. These are at the same level as the surrounding skin, and have often regained their original grain pattern.
The naked truth of worth telling.
If you are a skilled upholsterer, furniture producer or furniture dealer, you know that nakedness and natural irregularities are the hallmarks of genuine aniline leathers, and distinguish them from other leathers. In the case of semi-aniline leather, these lines show as shade-changes in different lighting.
We must work together to help end users appreciate this important distinction. Then they will start asking for aniline leather because of its naturalness and unique touch and character. Unlike other leathers, aniline leather bears its own unmistakable stamp of quality.
is a successful compromise that combines a high degree of naturalness with comfort and durability. Semi-aniline leather is surface-treated with a water-based mixture of dye-finish with a small amount of pigment. This treatment produces a leather that is soft and supple, yet more resistant to heavy wear in public environments. Semi-aniline leather is easy to clean. The natural markings on the original hide are still visible, but are less pronounced than in aniline leather.
Technical leather is primarily designed to withstand tough wear and tear, for instance in the automotive and aviation industries. It also needs to be highly resistant to challenging environment factors such as fire and light. Technical leather gets its tough surface through repeated treatments. These treatments cover most of the natural structure of the leathers and for this reason, some of our technical products are given a slightly assisted grain.
Today’s technical leather is the result of many years’ close collaboration with our customers in the automotive industry. Our knowledge of this industry’s uncompromising standards has played a major role in shaping the way we tan process technical leather today. At the same time, we constantly strive to produce technical leathers that come closer to the touch and comfort of our upholstery leather, while still maintaining their advanced technical properties.