Originally Posted by caelte
I was told a number of the old tanneries have closed, taking their knowledge of tanning with them.
This was harness leather that I was told about but are other tanneries closing their doors as well?
Mark, for some perspective - every single tannery in Canada has shut its doors. I think Orion may still be around, but that's very doubtful. The problem is that typical tanneries don't provide leather for high-end firms that are ready to dish out $5/sq.ft. When Chinese manufacturing moves in, they can't compete with them in quality, and they can't compete with price, so they have to close shop. The only tanneries that remain are either those that have a lot of grit, or those that make specialty leathers. This is why the big few are still around. When Hermes buys leather from a firm, they're not too price sensitive since the cost just gets transfered to the end consumer, who, in turn are also price insensitive when it comes to Veblen goods.
The same thing has happened in the US, and to a lesser extent in Italy, France, and England where some of the best leathers have traditionally come from.
The same effect is felt in the higher-end markets, too, though not to the same extent. If Horween, for example, closes its doors, there will be no one left to make cordovan, 'cept for the firm in Japan whose name escapes and whose products are a distant second compared to Horween, from what I hear.