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Western Europe -- chiefly France and Italy -- is commonly touted as the nexus where quality craftsmanship and first-rate materials intersect. Upon closer inspection, though, it’s clear that the world offers a surplus of diverse alternatives. Here's an off-the-beaten-path look at leather specialists of every variety.

1. See ya' later...


Right here in America, a proliferation of alligator farms has converged, for obvious reasons, in the South -- notably, Louisiana.

2. Don't cry for me...


Sophisticated cities, like Milan and Paris, pride themselves on their beautifully rendered merchandise -- as they should -- but oftentimes they're using leather sourced from this South American country, which exports some of the world's finest cow hides.

3. Stick your neck out


The local forte is ostrich skins, which have long been favored by luxury labels thanks to their strength, pliancy, ability to be dyed, and distinctive quill pattern. The town of Durban is widely recognized as having the highest concentration of ostrich farms in the world, which are used in accessories by Prada, Gucci, and Cartier.

4. Catch some rays


Stingray skin, also known as galuchat or shagreen, is recognized, and lusted after, for its beadlike ridges. Thailand specializes in the manufacturing of these unique fabrics, which are used to make belts, wallets, and briefcases.

5. Snake in the grass


When it comes to the covetable skins of reptiles, Indonesia is home to many reputable farms that answer to international agency CITES, which regulates humane animal treatment.

6. Eel the world


With its supple texture and surprising strength, eel has been eclipsing more traditional skins as a material for high-end goods. Many are sourced from South Korea, where their flesh is eaten and the skins would otherwise be discarded.

7. What a croc


Despite their astronomical prices, Hermes accessories have many admirers. In fact, demand is so high that, in 2009, the company opened its own crocodile farm Down Under to accommodate customer demand.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Max Berlinger