The Norwegian Red Cattle is well-known for their perfect hides and skins. (Photo:Anette Broteng Christiansen / ThorNews)
Nearly every second cow in Norway becomes luxury handbags. Norwegian farmers earn 16 dollars per square meter rawhide, and the same leather piece may end up as three designer handbags worth at least 4000 dollars each. NRK TV program Forbrukerinspektørene (FBI) followed the rawhide from Norway to Florence in Italy.
According to Lars Christen Dørum, Head of Hides & Skins Department at Norilia that buy the skins directly from the farmers, around ten per cent of the world’s animal skins end up as luxury products. For Norwegian rawhide, the number is as high as 50 %.
After cleaning and salting the skin at Norilia, it is sold to international tanneries for about 30 dollars. The raw skin is transformed into finished leather other factories can use in their luxury handbag production.
Dørum points to several reasons why the quality of Norwegian hides are better than in many other countries:
– The most important is animal health, and Norwegian farmers treat their animals well. They are mostly kept outdoors, and they are healthy. In addition, there are hardly any problems regarding lice, fleas and other pests that might create wounds and scars on the skin. In Norway, it is forbidden to use barbed wire because animals can be wounded.
From Norway to Italy
TV program FBI followed a piece of rawhide that ended up in the tannery Tempesti outside Florence, Italy. After two to three weeks of treatment, one square meter of finished leather is sold on to handbag factories for 60 to 80 dollars. In other words, prices already have increased fivefold.
Thereafter, FBI took a trip to the handbag factory SAPAF. The factory manufactures the most famous fashion brands and has around 30 employees who earn approximately 55,000 dollars per year – far above the average wage in Italy.
– One bag will typically cost around 470 dollars when it is sold from the factory, says owner of SAPAF, Leonardo Calistri, to Forbrukerinspektørene.
Given that they can produce three handbags out of one square meter of leather, the price is now nearly 15,000 dollars.
Norwegian Red Cattle? The Birkin Handbag from Hermès may come from Norwegian cows. (Photo: Wen-Cheng Liu / Wikimedia Commons)
However, the major price jump appears in the fashion houses. Here, trends, demands and availability decides. Among the most exclusive handbags, there are almost no price ceiling.
– Normally, a handbag will cost three times as much or more in the store than from our factory, Calistri says.
In conclusion, three finished bags will cost 4000 dollars or more.
Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews