The Inspiration behind Autumn/Winter 2015: Blog Four - Crocodile Leather

It’s All About Exoticism

A whole crocodile skin made up the third item of our mood board. This 3D deviation from our pictorial norm came about because we fell head over heels in love with the texture, the smell, and the sheer craziness of it and simply wanted it to be close enough to inspire us to recreate its wild, tactile effect.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly what is so appealing about the skin of a crocodile. Perhaps it is our obsession with the “monster” quality of these creatures or maybe it’s the fear they illicit. Crocodile skin is all about survival – it protects the animal like full-body armour, it commands respect and it undoubtedly conveys power. 

To see where this piece of crocodile leather were located on our mood board go to blog post one on The Inspiration Behind Autumn/Winter 2015.

To see where this piece of crocodile leather were located on our mood board go to blog post one on The Inspiration Behind Autumn/Winter 2015.

Re-Writing The Woman as Warrior

Clothing often fulfills a similar function for women as the skin does for the crocodile. Sometimes it is exactly the power and sense of invincibility we require. For some battles we need to be warriors not femme fatales.

We therefore find the idea of the fierce mother of the animal kingdom, especially the fierce crocodile mother, a very appealing image to tap into. In business it is sometimes necessary to be a touch intimidating – and the ERRE woman understands this.

Recreating the Exotic

One of the most interestingly, creativity challenges we have faced so far – to turn cow leather into crocodile leather, which is more accessible. The rarity of the crocodile is one of its key characteristics and one of the main reasons why it is so popular. Farmed crocodiles are however relatively accessible but our sense of respect for these creatures would prevent us from using the actual skin.

Taking the texture as a starting point we have tried laser cutting and buttons in an attempt to replicate the texture. We have not succeeded yet, however, we continue the quest so watch this space!

Azzedine Alaïa, crocodile skin appliqué jacket, Couture Spring 2003, Monsieur Alaïa personal archives. Photography Paolo Roversi, 2013.

Azzedine Alaïa, crocodile skin appliqué jacket, Couture Spring 2003, Monsieur Alaïa personal archives. Photography Paolo Roversi, 2013.

Crocodile Through The Ages

It is easy to make clothing look lavish and luxurious using crocodile skin. For example, designers such as Azzedine Alaïa have used crocodile leather on garments to great effect. Using the natural beauty of the skin, he simply appliqued the skin to a jacket as seen above.

To us, the over usage of this exotic skin, mostly by luxury handbag retailers, has caused it to lose some of its mystique. It’s easy to create an expensive handbag using the skin. Leather is naturally luxurious and interesting. However, it is much more difficult to try and create something new.

Back view of our Crocodile jacket.

Back view of our Crocodile jacket.

The Crocodile Jacket

 The ERRE Crocodile Jacket, the finale jacket in our Autumn/Winter 15 collection, was designed and mocked-up in Illustrator. Each of the buttons, used to imitate the bumpy pattern of the crocodile skin, is hand stitched  taking one person two days to achieve.

Mimicking the shape of the actual skin, it also ends in a “tail” while the laser cut triangular shapes across the back and front of the jacket imitates its texture.

One of the benefits of recreating the skin is that we can manipulate the crocodile texture into patterns of our own design. What we love about this is the fact that when you view the jacket from far away you are reminded of crocodile, but up close you can see that the patterns, although organic, flow into a curvilinear pattern. By trying to mimic it, without using it, we are able to manipulate the leather to create something altogether new, while still retaining the powerful effect that natural crocodile leather coveys.

Influencing The Collection

This piece of crocodile leather was the inspiration behind us stretching our collective, creative minds. In trying to create the same texture out of the cheaper, less exotic cow hide, we established new ways of creating the same exoticism. Although we love this exotic skin and feel that it adds an element of danger to the collection, we would rather challenge ourselves to recreate the texture. 

The finale jacket in the Autumn/Winter 2015 runway collection shown at SA Fashion Week.

The finale jacket in the Autumn/Winter 2015 runway collection shown at SA Fashion Week.