Glove cutting is a rare skill. Today, there are fewer than a hundred practicing glove cutters in the world. Only two can be found in Sweden, Anton and Niklas Magnusson, fourth-generation members of the family business.
Like so many other expressions of couture, glove making was a craft that reached its pinnacle in France. The Huguenots were particularly accomplished glove makers. During the 17th Century, many settled in England, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Wherever they went, they took their skills with them. Even to this day, the finest gloves are made in accordance with the French traditions.
Before the finished leather reaches us in Hestra, it is transformed by expert tanners from raw hide to soft and supple full-grain leather. We use drum dyed leather as it retains the natural appearance and characteristics of the leather. At a glance, our skilled glove cutters can determine how many gloves can be made from a single piece of leather. In preparation, the skins are moistened and powdered to make them easier to work with. Thereafter, the glove cutter carefully examines the skins in order to determine and plan which parts of the leather to use for each section of the glove.
The glove cutter must use the leather as efficiently as possible and minimize the amount of waste while considering the individual properties of each skin. All leather has a natural stretch, so the glove cutter must stretch the leather before cutting. Next, they determine how much stretch should be left in the glove, and in what direction to guarantee a perfect fitting glove.
The glove cutter’s tools are simple, yet proven. They use shears, a blunt knife called a piquette, and a ruler calibrated in French inches. Stencils are used to mark the glove material with lines. Even the glove’s forchettes – the sections on the side of the fingers – are stretched and cut.
The cutter’s knowledge and feel for the grain and texture of the leather determine the fit of the glove. The craft can only be learned through painstaking practice under the watchful eye of a master cutter. Once the leather has been cut, the pieces are sewn together by hand or machine, and the lining is inserted. Next, the gloves are dressed on iron plates, ironed and polished to give them their final shape and finish.