Leather in Ubrique

Leather in Ubrique

 

In the 19th century immigrants arrived in Ubrique from Italy, bringing with them the leather trade for which the town is still world-renowned. During the 20th century, leatherwork continued to increase in importance, becoming the town’s main industry. Today’s leather manufacturing in Ubrique combines traditional workmanship with modern techniques, mostly using cow hide.

These days the quality of Ubrique’s leather is famous across Spain and orders are supplied to luxury Spanish and French design houses such as Loewe, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, as well as Chloe. Ubrique produces 75% of the leather goods made in Spain. Some factories make as many as 1500 bags per day.
 
See some of the designers and factories in this report from TV programme 75 Minutos.



When Letizia was crowned queen along with her husband Felipe in 2014, her leather bag used for the Coronation ceremony in Madrid, by Spanish designer Magrit, was made from Ubrique leather. Other well-known Ubrique leather goods brands include Milli Millu, El Potro and Piel&Mer, and accessories available include mobile phone cases and mouse mats, and handbag styles such as hobo, tote and baguette.

Troops arrived from Castile in the 13th century to attempt to reclaim the area for Christianity. However, it was not until 1485 that the Castilians, under the control of Ponce of Leon, occupied the area, exterminating and/or expelling the Muslim population over time.

After the expulsion of the Arab population, the region was colonized by people from Castile. Later it became part of the dominion of the Dukes of Arcos de Medina.

Agriculturally, the area suffered greatly while the colonists attempted to adapt their agricultural knowledge to their new mountainous home. It was not easy, but with time, the new settlers did adapt.

If you’re interested in leather, you shouldn’t miss the Museo de la Piel (Leather Museum). Housed in a 17th century Capuchin convent in the higher part of the town, it has old leather-working machinery and an art gallery with tooled leather (known as marroquineria since the technique originates in Morocco) works of art hung as paintings, as well as exhibits which show how leather is worked and made into bags, with beautiful examples of leather goods. Guided tours are available. The museum is free, but small donations are welcome to keep the museum open.