Heaven for leather. Why Mallorca is famous for its ‘piel’

I don’t know what it is, but almost every time I come to Majorca I buy a pair of leather shoes. I know this may sound a little ‘flash’, but I’m sorry I just can’t help it.

My shoes of choice tend to be from the renowned Mallorcan manufacturer Camper. No, I have no financial interest in the company whatsoever; I just love their shoes! They’re so cool, so stylish, and most importantly, so comfortable. So incredibly comfortable in fact that the superb soft leather makes it feel like you’re walking round in carpet slippers.

My Camper fetish speaks volumes about the long-standing tradition of leather (piel in Spanish) manufacturing on the island.

The mid island town of Inca is the real heart and ‘sole’ of the Mallorcan leather industry. Here you’ll find the biggest and best leather shops on the island.

“The first time you visit Inca, you will be astounded by the sheer number of leather factory outlets. Yes, leather is a serious business in these parts”

The town also features a lively weekly leather market that attracts thousands of tourists and residents from around the island. So if you love fine leather (and who doesn’t adore that gorgeous smell?) Inca is an absolute must on your island itinerary.

Leather – a long-standing Mallorcan tradition

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 02.21.48The first leather workshops were set up by the Moors in the Inca area as far back as 1240. Craftsmen would take their wares into town to exchange for food. By the 14th century cobblers were handcrafting shoes and tanners turning raw hide into leather goods. However, in 1652 disaster struck – the bubonic plague. Over 2000 people in Inca died and the shoe industry was all but finished for the next 200 years.

In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Inca was a big producer of wine. However, the phylloxera disease completely destroyed the industry and the locals returned to what they knew best – leather making.

Things really began to pick up with the arrival of the railway in 1875. Mallorcan leather shoes could now be taken by train to Palma for export to the world!

Big name brands famous the world over

Famous name brands are something of a Mallorcan speciality. In addition to Camper, check out Tony Mora the celebrated bespoke manufacturer whose leather boots are world famous. Specialising in handmade cowboy boots with a certain ‘biker vibe’ these beauties can be seen being worn by many a Mallorcan fashionista with attitude.

Interestingly, the Tony Mora name goes back more than 100 years and the company is still based in the delightful Mallorcan town of Alaro.

But it’s not just all about boots and shoes. Leather coats, suede jackets and skirts, bags, gloves…you’ll find examples of quality Mallorcan leatherwear in shops, stores and boutiques across the island. (Over 20 years ago a friend of mine bought a lovely suede winter coat from one of Inca’s many leather factory outlets. She still wears it today.)

Other well-known designer names in Mallorcan leather goods to look out for include Farrutx, Yanko and Lotusse.

So if your taste in fashion includes ‘leather heaven’ make sure you visit Mallorca and treat yourself to something heavenly in leather.

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