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Pedro Planells, the leather biker.

Pedro Planells, the leather biker.

Once upon a time there was a young Ibicencan boy named Pedro, who in 1960 fell madly in love with an English girl named Didi. In order to win her heart, he decided to give her a leather belt, made with his own hands. This worked so well that they eventually got married, and he ended up working for people like Armani and Valentino. Such a cool character deserves an interview, so let’s go.

Hello Don Pedro, why was that belt so successful? Truth be told it was horrible. I made it with a piece of old leather that I found, and as I didn’t have the money to buy a buckle, I placed a door hinge on it instead. Picture that for a moment… yep it was awful!

It can’t have been that bad if you ended up selling them in the best shops in London. Well, I got lucky. In 1968 we went on holiday to England, and one day we went out to dinner with some of Didi’s friends. She was wearing the belt that I had made and they loved it. I don’t know who they talked to who, and still don’t know how, but I ended up selling them in George Best’s shop. I then started to get calls from the Harrods boutique and a lot of other places.

How long did your London adventure last? I went there about 40 times, and the longest time I was there was for a year and a half. I never liked city life, so one day I just closed it all down and opened a small store in San Antonio (Ibiza).

How was your business here in Ibiza? Very good, I had 4 or 5 shops across the island, but I also got tired of running them. I wanted to work when I felt like it, and live a quiet life, so I closed them all except for the shop in Ibiza centre.

The legendary Pedro’s shop was an obligatory stop for the jetsetters who arrived on the island. What was the secret of your success? Giving out free drugs? Well, everyone who left the shop were laughing and dancing so they could not complain. (Laughter). The truth is that the shop was a show, with a very baroque and decadent window display. It attracted so much attention that everyone, rich and poor, came in to browse.

At this time you also ended up working for designers like Valentino, Giorgio Armani and Jean Paul Gaultier … What exactly did you do for them? For Gaultier I made all the accessories for one of his fashion shows in Paris: bags, belts, etc. Giorgio Armani loved my sandals, so I made him a custom-made pair. Later on that year he was in a magazine wearing these same sandals, and the store filled with Italians who wanted a pair of them as well.

What is it about leather for you to have dedicated 50 years of your life to it? I don’t know how to do anything else! (Laughter). The truth is that I really liked leather in the past, but I’m 75 years old now and I dedicate myself to a Harley Davidson Softail 1600 c.c.

To finish, can you work with leather and not be a hippie? No. Artisans have a very unconventional life, one day you have money and the next you’ve got nothing. I was very good at working with leather, but it is not a normal life, so in order to be dedicated to this line of work you have to be a free spirit, and be willing to always live life on a tightrope.

By Pablo Burgués