Monthly archives: June, 2017

Peninsula Classics Best of the Best 2017

The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best was created in 2016 by the Hong Kong-based luxury hotel group to add a layer of celebration on top of the world’s most important vintage car awards. It’s a complement to The Quail Motorsports Gathering which Peninsula Hotels sponsors during Monterey Car Week and in the future will travel around the world. This year’s winner was a 1954 Maserati A6GCS/53 Berlinetta with coach-work by Pininfarina—chosen from a group of eight remarkable cars, the Maserati stands out for its unique provenance and incredible unrestored condition.

First presented at the 1954 Paris Motor Show, the car is one of only four Berlinetta-style sports cars that Pininfarina ever made and is considered the best preserved of the group given it’s the only one that has retained both its original chassis and body. The original owner raced it several times, including at the 1955 Mille Miglia, which is a poetic tie to today’s owner, Timm Bergold of The Destriero Collection.

A life-long modern car aficionado, Bergold developed his passion for vintage cars when a friend invited him to co-pilot at Mille Miglia. They continued this partnership for five years before Bergold decided it was time to enter the world of vintage car ownership and race his own vehicle. And thus his collection began. “I don’t have a large collection of vintage cars, but I have very particular ones. It’s not the number that’s important to me, it’s the quality,” he told us recently. Four years ago he met the previous owner of the 1954 Maserati Berlinetta, admitting it was his dream car. The owner didn’t want to sell, but Bergold gave him a deposit anyway asking for the first opportunity to buy it when he’s ready. Almost a year later, the car was finally Bergold’s. “Still, every time I see this car I can’t believe it’s sitting in my garage. It’s like a sculpture. If I could, I would put it in my garden—it doesn’t belong in a garage,” he tells us with true passion in his eyes.

The 1954 Maserati A6GCS/53 Berlinetta will be on display today at The Quail Motorsports Gathering along with many, many more phenomenal vintage cars plus some examples of modern and future vehicles. We will be taking over the Peninsula Hotel’s Instagram account for the day, so be sure to tune in to @PeninsulaHotels and also follow #Quail2017 for a look at the cars, their owners and other highlights from the event.

Nesting and Cutting Leather with Grant Stone

Nesting patterns onto the leather is the first step to making the shoe or boot upper and is one of the most important. “Nesting” is when a person methodically maps out the upper patterns onto the leather hide. This allows the person to closely inspect the article and avoid any blemishes while utilizing the majority of the hide. It’s one of the most critical steps for a few reasons. For a factory, this is where money can be made or lost. It is a difficult job because there isn’t a straight-forward Standard Operating Procedure, and you may not know the result of a decision made until the shoe is nearly finished. For example, a questionable piece of leather may look okay once the shoe is lasted as the upper is supported. Once you remove the last, the upper may show wrinkling or other issues which were not apparent.

Every leather acts differently when it comes to aesthetics and performance. The pattern being used also plays a large factor, as some are broken in to multiple pieces while others can be a large, single pattern, which can make it difficult to find a suitable area on the hide. Even when sourcing leather from world-renowned tanneries, properly cutting the pattern (including direction) is critical. The majority of high-end footwear leathers are tanned with aniline dyes which purposely reveal the natural characteristics of the leather. While the transparency gives the leather a certain depth and character, it also exposes the blemishes such as veins or scars. It’s quite common to find subtle lines throughout the best areas of the article which tend to be near the rear-end of the animal, just beside the backbone. This part of the animal’s skin has endured less movement and encounters less everyday abuse such as cuts and scrapes.

Pictured below is a cow hide used on casual footwear which has a high wax and oil content. This article has an exaggerated “pull-up” effect which means the oils and waxes inside the article are able to move around freely. Not only does this give the article a lot of character, this will keep the article hydrated over the years when enduring water and other elements. When this article is pulled over the last, the oils and waxes are drawn out of the article highlighting the base color of the leather. This type of leather (especially in lighter colors) can be quite difficult because some blemishes that were not visible due to the oils will appear after lasting.

When mapping out the leather, cutting an extra half pair from a hide will improve yields but if the shoe is pulled aside later on in the stitching or lasting department due to quality issues such as excessive wrinkling or blemishes, the loss is much greater than just avoiding that part of the hide to begin with.

The standard comes down to the type of footwear being made, the cost and what the consumer expects. A bespoke maker might only cut one pair of shoes from an entire hide, while a volume manufacturer with very competitive pricing will try to use every last bit of the article. We have to find a middle ground, but tend be more cautious with our cutting, as we understand that there will be fewer issues later in the process and end product will be sound, as our customer expects.

Marks such as scars can’t be used on this type of footwear, so they are avoided altogether. If we had to summarize our cutting standard, we might say that we focus more on the overall grain structure. While most of the loose grain is near the edges of the article or the belly area, loose grain can also be found in the center of the article. To avoid using these areas, the person nesting has to inspect the area, lightly moving or flexing the leather to see how it reacts. This will give an indication of how the leather will look if it’s flexed during the make process or on the finished shoe. Another way to check is not only on the surface of the leather, but the flesh side. The below photo shows the grain side and flesh side of a prime area (A), versus the belly area (B). It is clear how the belly area has wrinkles on the surface and how it translates to loose fibers on the flesh side. While loose grain is usually considered a cosmetic concern, it can affect the integrity of the shoe as loose fibers are not as strong.