You also love the smell of real leather? So does KEES!

The story behind KEES, the new Dutch fashion label for sustainable leather bags.

“We don’t think there’s anything more beautiful (and smells better) than real and honest leather. With this in mind KEES was born.

Why KEES?

The name KEES comes from the thought that every woman deserves a ‘man’ on her arm that makes her shine. And as with all men, every KEES is unique. Because we consciously choose to leave the leather as pure as possible, your KEES can contain small color differences, spots or blemishes. Think for example insect bites or stretch marks. We think this adds something, because it shows where the product comes from. In short: it is special and only for you, because there is no KEES in the world like your KEES!

Production

For a new KEES you first need leather (that was an inkoppertje). This one comes from a tannery in Portugal. Specially selected by us, because they make the highest quality organic leather. We can already hear you thinking ‘Bio-leather’ – well, we’d like to explain that to you:

Bio-leather

At KEES we think the world around us is mega important. That’s why we take a critical look at our entire production process and always try to make the best choice – for people, animals and the environment. Sometimes that’s quite a challenge and a tough search. That’s why we’re proud to tell you that all our KEES bags are made of Portuguese Bio leather. This leather is tanned without harmful chemicals, which means that the production has no negative impact on the environment. In fact, this particular leather is biodegradable and goes back to nature. How does it work? Just like at home, in a compost heap.

But what about that exactly?

Some facts about the different types of leather:

  • Traditionally tanned leather contains ‘chrome’. Simply put, this is a harmful substance for humans, animals and the environment. Leather that has been tanned in this way cannot be broken down biologically. Unfortunately, most leather in the world is still made this way, because it is generally cheaper and faster.
  • The so-called ‘white-tanning’ and ‘vegetable-tanning’ method is without ‘chrome’ and therefore already much better for the environment. This material is therefore biodegradable in 30-50 days.
  • Bio-leather is just that extra step. Because of its natural properties, this material is 100% absorbed into the soil within 15 days (as part of the compost heap) and the tannery uses it to fertilize the surrounding agricultural fields, as it contributes to a fertile soil. In addition, because of this natural way of tanning, the leather is soft for the (sensitive) skin.

(And no, you don’t have to worry about your bag disappearing completely 15 days after purchase, we’ve made sure of that with a durable coating. No worries!)

Of course you understand that we at KEES were super enthusiastic about this Bio leather. And so the choice was quickly made and the collaboration was born.

Okay, then you’ve got leather. But how do you turn it into a bag?
When the tanner is ready the leather goes to the workshop, an hour’s drive from the tannery. Here Sergio and his team make sure that the leather turns into a real KEES, mainly by hand (and sometimes with a little help from machines). Would you like to see with your own eyes how a KEES bag is made step by step? Check out our regular story ‘KEES001’ on Instagram.

So the whole production of KEES is in Portugal, instead of in a distant country (like India or China). And that’s deliberate. Why is it so conscious? Because then we can just drop by. This is not only fun (because that’s how we know everyone who works on our bags by name!) but we can keep an eye on the quality at any moment in the process. In addition, we are assured that the people who work on KEES get a fair wage and live in good conditions, the animals whose skins come have had a good life and that the whole process is fair and sustainable. Of course this is also reflected in the price, we are aware of that. For a real KEES you pay just a little bit more, but then you know for sure that your bag has an honest story.

For us, sustainability, an honest product and minimalist ‘Dutch Design’ are paramount – the design of the bags happens in the Netherlands. In addition, we believe that every woman with a KEES on her arm can get the best out of herself. Simple.”

Credits: KEES bags