The swedish leather heritage

Perhaps little is known, even in Sweden, about the history of its leather heritage, an industry which has sat proudly in the mid-land of Malung and the surrounding area as a hotbed for factories and tanneries since the late 19th Century.

Once boasting more than 240 factories from larger companies through to smaller self-employed one-man businesses, Malung has serviced Sweden as its capital for reputable and quality leather products. However, with the emergence of the Asian market and a cheaper manufacturing cost, the industry started to fizzle out in the 1970s.

With a reported harsh agricultural land, the emergence of the leather trade came when people were forced into creating a second income for themselves through the provision of raw hides from the plentiful numbers of animals at their disposal, this steadily expanded in and around Malung, so much so that competing businesses specializing in the hand-crafting of leather goods became extremely protective of their land and tremendously territorial.

With hunting prominent and farm animals utilized, rawhides were often pre-prepared on farms and then delivered to the makers to create leather goods. Malung also had a proud tradition of leather merchants and tanners, who would walk between villages to create and sell pelts, leather jackets, and even shoes in exchange for accommodation and a small fee.

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"Small manufacturing plants emerged everywhere in Malung and the design and cutting would be carried out in the factories whereas the sewing was often done by homeworkers on machines in their basements."

"Small manufacturing plants emerged everywhere in Malung and the design and cutting would be carried out in the factories whereas the sewing was often done by homeworkers on machines in their basements."

Around 1880, the new era of manufacturing started. The trade was carried out in a factory rather than at the customers' house. Small manufacturing plants emerged everywhere in Malung and the design and cutting would be carried out in the factories whereas the sewing was often done by homeworkers on machines in their basements. Over the years there have also been multiple leather tanneries and shoe factories in the area.

“It’s astonishing to think that there have been so many companies of varying sizes specializing in the manufacture of leather goods in Malung,” says leather historian Hans Öjes, who also runs a website focusing on the history of leather craft in the area.

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With the emergence of the industry in Malung, various companies came together in the 1950s to create the Leather Manufacturers Association, effectively increasing public awareness regarding leather as opposed to other more well-known fabrics, making the town renowned as a place for producing high-quality goods.

However, come the 1970s, with the impact of globalization and more and more companies moving production overseas, manufacturing in Malung began to close down. Today there is almost no leather industry left in the town but the history, energy, and legacy of Malung’s trade still lives on.

As Jofama approaches 100 years in operation, it is a presentation and living proof of Malung’s craftsmanship and expertise within the leather industry. Born from a heritage of handcrafting and mastering design, quality, and manipulation of leather as a material, Jofama provides that window into the heritage of a once-thriving part of an industry in Sweden, which, when we delve deeper makes the statement that ‘A Malung Jacket is For Life’ all the more poignant.