From The Design Bench To Your Shoulder
Every story starts with a beginning, and with a Whitestone and Willow instrument strap, it’s in the selection of our leathers.
Like the perfect meal , everything rests on the calibre and quality of the ingredients. Without good raw ingredients as a foundation even the greatest of chef’s would struggle to deliver a great meal. We ourselves start by grading the raw materials. A very soft leather is perfect for our Deluxe series straps, so we set those on one side for that purpose.
Some leathers we can see immediately will absorb dyes or display grain pattern characteristics that best suit Classic series or maybe Elite series straps. Some suit the Deluxe Series better.
Once we’ve decided on the series that the raw material is best suited for, and grade the leather accordingly, we then cut down the material into smaller segments for final precision cutting. When cut into more manageable sizes we then apply the dyes at the tanneries. These dyes are unique to our own specific products. We have the leather immersed in dye for each precise colour required, and then we allow the air to dry each piece naturally.
Each one of these leathers is then ready to become a genuine Whitestone & Willow product and so begins the hand preparation.
Our cutters then score out the exact shape of our straps with a mould stencil and knife, almost exactly as a boot maker would have done 300 years ago. They begin by putting a preset heavy pattern mould made from pig iron onto the leather, before trimming and levelling out each piece over the button ends, which is an art in itself, and when complete, they add, with contrast stitching, a padded section for comfort.
Through trial and error, like most workshops, in the past we have tried various threads and modern glues to prepare our products, some because they were modern and some because they saved a little money… but we finally decided that nothing could beat the permanence and historic look of our counter stitching, which holds the lining padding to the leather.
This counter stitching is strong raw cotton thread dyed for us in a Golden Wheatsheaf shade to add a visual contrast to every straps leather.
At this same stage we emboss our brand logo for identification and the hall mark stamp of our English workshop, so there can be no mistake in the straps provenance. We then prepare our distinctive Brogue pattern design signature for the strap end. This work is done by a single craftsman, well experienced in the process, who prepares every Brogue piece for final assembly.
When cut and stamped, the co workers will seal the whole strap as a single piece and send it through to the polish and finish room.
Once at the final stage, we evaluate each strap, we polish and buff any chalk or pencil marks off the product and assess the overall cosmetic. Once approved by quality control, every strap has a unique swing tag with bar code added attached by a thin piece of English twine, ready for retail display.
It takes significant man hours to lovingly prepare a Whitestone & Willow strap and even if we wanted to, it’s a manufacturing process overall that can’t be rushed. In a busy, impatient world, with everyone demanding more speed and immediacy in product procurement, we are very old fashioned, and take our time.
But when we have finished, and place our straps with retailers for sale, we hope everyone agrees that sometimes, good things come to those who wait!