Haiti Made Blog / Sustainability

Haiti Made from Start to Finish: The Story Behind Our Leather

Haiti Made from Start to Finish: The Story Behind Our Leather

What makes our leather goods different? From start to finish, our leather goods are proudly 100% made in Haiti. Not only are all Haiti Made leather goods thoughtfully designed and meticulously handcrafted throughout each step of production here at our workshop in Grand-Goave, Haiti, all of our raw leather materials are made in Haiti as well.


Since our founding in 2014, Haiti Made has partnered exclusively with Hawtan Leathers (Cuirs Hawtan) to supply all of our raw leather material needs. A premier international leather manufacturer and distributor based in Massachusetts and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Hawtan has one of the largest tanneries in the Caribbean and has operated continuously in Haiti since 1970. Hawtan’s Port-au-Prince tannery and processing facilities employ 100+ Haitians and are large enough to process 700,000 square feet of custom leather and raw leather monthly.




Hawtan supplies leather to companies across the Americas, Asia, and Europe, and we are proud to be one of them. Being able to partner with and support a local Haitian business like Hawtan’s Port-au-Prince tannery, while they provide us with high-quality leather is crucial to the big picture of our mission which is to build and create a circle of trade centered quality goods made in Haiti, to create dignified employment for Haitians, and to promote economic sustainability in Haitian communities to end the deep-rooted cycles of poverty that have long existed in Haiti.



To get a great final product, you have to start with great raw materials. Our certified vegetable-tanned (veg-tan for short) leather from Hawtan is old-world saddle grade leather made from cowhides that come from certified grass-fed cows in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Iowa. Processed at Hawtan’s Port-au-Prince tannery, our certified veg-tan leather is made using a special process that utilizes natural tannins made from organic materials.

The veg-tan leather tanning process is slow and artisanal. Many other companies use chrome-tanned leather which utilizes chromium and is more quickly processed, but chromium is a heavy metal that is toxic to the environment and the workers processing it. Veg-tan leather might be a more expensive and difficult way, but to us, it’s the right way. In addition to it being a more natural and organic process, veg-tan leather is unique in that it has a distinctive “leather” aroma, rather than the typical chemical odor of chromium-tanned goods. With every Haiti Made leather product, you will touch, smell, and see the distinction and superiority of veg-tan leather over chromium-tanned leather.




After being artisanally processed at Hawtan’s tannery our certified veg-tan leather arrives at our workshop in Grand-Goave to be artisanally handcrafted into a beautiful Haiti Made leather product. Each leather product is 100% cut, stitched, and stamped with the Haiti Made logo by hand, and coated with neatsfoot oil to condition and further protect the veg-tan leather. Stitching by hand on veg-tan leather creates a stitch that is extremely durable, much stronger, and more elegant than a stitch created with a sewing machine.




Craftsmanship is what makes Haiti Made. Some Haiti Made leather products are made, start to finish, by one Haiti Made team member individually. Other Haiti Made leather products require a more collaborative production effort and thus have been touched and made with many different hands, each doing their part to get to the final product. The beauty of handcrafted means a part of each Haiti Made team member is imprinted on each Haiti Made product like a piece of art.




One of the best things about our veg-tan leather goods aside from their durability is the fact that you make them your own. The artisanal techniques used by Hawtan to make our high-quality vegetable-tanned leather means that instead of degrading and deteriorating, all Haiti Made leather goods will soften and develop a beautiful patina as they age. With day-to-day use over time, our veg-tan leather goods show their character with a strong leather patina, a.k.a the natural accumulation of dirt, oils, sunlight, and wear and tear that combines to create a darkened, sheened, and softened look. This look tells a story, and through everyday use, your own Haiti Made leather goods will develop a patina that will tell your story, a story that started in Haiti.

From start to finish, our leather goods are proudly 100% made in Haiti.


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Who Made My Clothes? #FashionRevolutionWeek

Who Made My Clothes? #FashionRevolutionWeek

Haiti Made Fashion Revolution Week 

This year Haiti Made is proud to take part in Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Revolution Week, an annual initiative that marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh on April 24, 2013, where over 1100 lives were lost in the collapse due to unsafe conditions and negligence. Despite this horrendous tragedy, fashion around the world is still manufactured and produced in similar working conditions to those that existed at the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. Fashion industry workers around the world are still suffering as a result of how fashion is unsustainably manufactured, sourced, and purchased. With these issues of sustainability and working conditions still at the forefront, it’s more important than ever for us all to ask “Where Did My Clothes Come From?” and “Who Made My Clothes?


For us at Haiti Made the issues of sustainability and working conditions run deep at the heart of what we do and why we do it. Haiti Made was born out of a deep desire to see Haitians and Haitian communities empowered by dignified and sustainable employment as a part of a larger effort to promote economic growth and sustainability in the country. More than half of Haiti’s population currently lives in abject poverty, and the orphan and child slavery crisis in Haiti has in large part been fueled by the lack of employment and very low wages.


With these factors spiraling Haiti into further economic turmoil, job creation has been proven to succeed where perpetual aid measures have failed. Dignified employment and fair wages mean the provision and preservation of family and community which translates to long term stability. By joining the Haiti Made team, each worker is able to make a fair wage and gain the professional skills necessary for career advancement. As a “Circle of Trade” united around quality products, dignified employment, and grounded in a “hand up” rather than a “hand out” philosophy, Haiti Made will continue to empower our employees and continue the fight in delivering economic sustainability to Haiti as a whole.


It’s more important than ever that we all ask “Who Made My Clothes?” and how our spending habits are affecting how they are made. Like Fashion Revolution, Haiti Made believes the more awareness we can bring to the stories behind our clothes/products, the more impact we can have across the fashion industry to raise standards for workers and the environment, all while improving respective communities and countries around the world. Your curiosity, your voice, and your shopping habits are more powerful than you know.


To find out more about Fashion Revolution and the #FashionRevolutionWeek initiative, please visit www.fashionrevolution.org.

I Made Your Clothes Fashion Revolution Week

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