Discover how a pair of quality gloves is made especially the ones from Fort Belvedere. If you’re looking for a pair of men’s leather gloves, you can find anything from $10, all the way up to $500, and everything in between.
Cheap Gloves Vs High-End Gloves
I’m sure you might think it’s just the leather and while it’s true that the leather of expensive gloves costs several times more than the retail price of cheap gloves, it is not just that. Cheap gloves are stiff. You can’t really feel anything and they limit the range of movement. On the other hand, a quality glove is soft, stretchy and it looks very elegant when it’s on your hand.
A few years back, I was sick and tired of the same old black and brown gloves and I decided to create my own line of Fort Belvedere gloves. I wanted something that was bolder in colors. I wanted something in grey or chamois yellow which are classic staples of a man’s wardrobe. As well as Bordeaux, or green, or other colors.
Because I’m really into quality, I didn’t want a cheap pair of gloves, but the best ones money can buy. Because most people don’t know what it actually takes to make a pair of gloves, depending on what kind of glove you have, and how it’s sewn, it can take up to eight hours to make a single pair; that doesn’t include the time to tend the leather. I wanted to show you the process so you get a deeper appreciation for what it means to have a quality piece of craftsmanship.
Individually Sized Glove Pattern
The important part is that you get different sizes that work well for men’s hands; no matter if they’re short or small, regular, or big, or long. Most cheaper glove sizes are just scaled up on a computer in a CAD program, but that doesn’t really fit the needs of most men. Because of that, we designed each and every pattern for each size individually so it fits your hands perfectly. We also decided to create six different size patterns to cover the entire range of men’s hands. No matter if you have very small hands or very large hands, we got you covered! Now the length of the cloth is also important because if it’s too long, it will bunch up and be uncomfortable to wear it, and if it’s too short, you get a cold air on your wrist. The entire pattern development including the fingers, the fourchettes, the quirks, and everything is done by hand by a skilled artisan and pattern maker.
Once the pattern is completed, it’s time to work on the leather.
First of all, you want a quality pair of glove leather; not many tanners can actually produce that very specialized tanning process. So you want something that is soft and stretchy so your hand can move freely. We get our sheepskin leathers which are supremely soft, have exactly the right thickness and properties, from Italy; and our peccary leather from Germany. Yes! All peccary skins come from Peru but we found that our European tanners have a higher skill level and the final product is more consistent, softer, and has a better coloring.
- The first step when working with the leather is to remove imperfections from the back side. Yes, that’s the rougher side. We use a tool that is similar to a knife, and with a skilled person, to shave off those imperfections so they won’t show later on a finished glove.
- Second, glove leather has to be constantly pulled and stretched because that ensures that the glove is cut the right way and later on, you can move freely with your fingers no matter if you make a fist or keep your hands straight. There are all sorts of specialized tools such as this knife, that is used to thin out and stretch the edges in a more extreme way than the rest.
- As you know, leather is a natural product and it needs a skilled hand and eye to know what to do with every different skin so we get a consistent product afterward. Therefore, some leathers are stretched more often than others but they have to be stretched to the right direction so they can be cut properly. During that process, we have many eyes on the leather so we make sure only the top-notch grade goes to production.
Manual Glove Cutting
Cutting sounds easier than it actually is. You have to position the pattern the right way. On skins like peccary where you have natural scars and imperfections, it’s the skill of the cutter to put the gloves in a certain way that you get the best quality with having the least amount of visible scars, at the same time, without wasting leather because that would price up the final price. In order to provide you with the best value, we only hire skilled and experienced cutters that know exactly what they’re doing. That way we can ensure a high-quality product at a fair price for you.
In this time, we’re also sewing the fourchettes which are the areas in between the fingers as well as the quirks which are little triangles that you can see in between the fingers that give you an extra range of movement. Of course, we also have the little buttons and the trim work that all goes along at the same time. Everything in this process is entirely done by hand. There are no machines involved in that step because otherwise, you’ll end up with imperfections and things that are not ideal for a top-quality glove.
How A Glove Is Sewn
Once the leather is cut properly, it’s time to sew them up. Basically, there are two options. You can have a machine sewn glove and a handsewn glove.
Not all machine sewn gloves are alike. You basically can sew a glove inside out which is often a method utilized in China, or in a lower-cost production, or you can have very skilled artisans who sew them with a machine from the outside. Now when I say machine-sewn, that means it’s a simple machine and they still have to align the leather. They have to control the stitch density. They have to get the lines straight and make sure that the interlining is exactly in the right spot so you end up with a glove that fits well and looks the part.
The way we do it is in fact so difficult, that Chinese manufacturers have failed to copy the process. And you know Chinese, you know they’re good at copying. If you want your gloves to be warm, you need an interlining, and cashmere is very soft and warm. You use a color that’s rather neutral and that is not too bright, nor too dark, so you’re not gonna see any fuzz on your hands even if you wear them for hours. As you can see, it’s a different machine that is utilized to sew in the lining so you get the perfect fit and not any knobs that feel uncomfortable when you wear your glove.
The same is true for the fingers. A different machine is used to stitch those together because it requires a different skill because you have the fourchettes coming together, as well as the front, and the back. Sometimes you can also find a machine that is used for the edge of the glove and it creates a seam that looks like handsewn but is in fact machine-sewn.
At Fort Belvedere, we decided not to use that machine because we believe in an honest product and so if you see a machine seam it means it’s machine-made. If you see a hand seam, it’s handmade.
When we say handsewn gloves, we mean every single stitch on that thing is handsewn. There’s no machine involved. Yes, that’s just a skilled sewer who does one stitch at a time and just a few gloves per day. In fact, sometimes they can even just produce one pair of gloves per day. Obviously, that’s slower than sewing it with a machine and because of that, a pair of handsewn gloves is more expensive. The look is also a bit more casual because the seam is on the outside but we like to use a contrast stitching that highlights the handsewn nature of the glove.
At this point, you also add a decorative stitching which is usually three lines on the back of the glove and we try to do something that is unusual and unique. It’s a little more intricate, it takes more time but it looks different, and you signal to others that this is not just your regular old glove but a special piece of craftsmanship. We also add the buttons to our wrists, which add a little bit of 1930s vintage flair but it also keeps the fit tight and keeps your hands and wrists warm.
Flawless & Wrinkle-Free Gloves
You might think we’re done by now, however, we’re not. Now it’s time to iron the glove to release any kind of wrinkles and it looks really perfect. If we wanted to, we could now even add a second stage of ironing with a little iron and that would add a little more shine to the leather, but we believe that a classic pair of men’s gloves shouldn’t be too shiny, but have a medium shine so we skip that step.
Now that you know how a pair of quality gloves is made at Fort Belvedere, I hope you have a deeper appreciation for what it is. We offer unique details in our gloves that you won’t find elsewhere, and also the color range, and the size scheme is bigger than in other places. We also stock all of our gloves so you don’t have to wait for weeks to get them when you need them right now. I’m the first to admit, Fort Belvedere gloves are not a cheap product but they are a very high-quality product that comes to you at a very fair value considering all the steps, know-how, time and skill that goes into making a pair.