Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul tours Sunderland Leather

Owner of Sunderland Leather, Matthew Smrtic, left shows Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, right, gloves that the U.S. Olympians wore at the Opening Ceremony at the 2018 Olympic Games. Sunderland Leather had a hand in the making of the gloves. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

GLOVERSVILLE — Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul made an appearance in Gloversville Friday to take a tour of Sunderland Leather.

The leather company had a hand in making the ceremonial fringe gloves worn by the U.S. Olympians in the Opening Ceremonies at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeogchang, South Korea.

Owner of Sunderland Leather, Matthew Smrtic, took Hochul through the factory showing her the process of making the leather and how the ceremonial gloves came to be.

The tour began with what Smrtic called the “sort and grade leather.” Smrtic said the workers will grade the leather and put the leather up for their customers.

“Everything is customed manufactured,” he said.

The leather then gets colored and inspected again for quality control and then is shipped out to the factory.

Smrtic said the leather for the ceremonial gloves was shipped out to Massachusetts where the gloves were cut and sewn.

“We worked close with Peter [Kiernan] with Olympia Gloves, who coordinated the whole thing,” Smrtic said.

He said they had no idea at first after making the leather for the gloves that they would be worn on the hands of U.S Olympic athletes.

“My wife and I were in Portland at a leather show when the opening ceremonies started and our phones lit up,” Smrtic said. “That’s when we first saw the beading.”

Kiernan said they made 815 gloves. He said the beading on the gloves was tedious work because they were sewn on by hand. “I think we finished it on Jan. 15 which was getting really close,” he said.

Hochul was then showed where the hide was measured, followed by the actual leather that the gloves were made from and after it is dyed. Hochul then was able to see a pair of the gloves which have the American flag and Olympic rings beaded on.

“It was a huge point of pride for not just myself, but for all New Yorkers to know that these really unique part of the overall uniform that they were marching in was made right here by hard working residents of upstate New York and it continues the legacy of glove manufactures that we dominated the industry back from 1920 to 1950 90 percent of gloves worn in America were made right here in Fulton County,” Hochul said. “So I just wanted to come congratulate the people here at Sunderland, Leslie and Matt, for their part in helping create that American pride that we all felt when our Olympians marched during the opening ceremonies.”

By Kerry Minor

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