What is vegetable tanned leather?

What is vegetable tanned leather?

When it comes to leather goods, the word "leather" can encompass a variety of types and treatments, each with its unique characteristics and uses. One of the most intriguing and sought-after varieties is vegetable tanned leather, often celebrated for its craftsmanship, durability, and timeless charm - being the very reason why it's our leather of choice for crafting our products.
If you've ever wondered what vegetable tanned leather is, how it's made, or why it's so highly regarded in the world of handcrafted leather goods, you're in the right place. In this blog post, we'll deepen into the fascinating world of vegetable tanned leather, answering the most common questions people have about this artisanal material.
Whether you're a seasoned enthusiast of leather products or just starting to explore the world of handmade leather goods, this guide will provide valuable insights into the essence of vegetable-tanned leather.

What is vegetable tanned leather and how it's made?

First, let's clear the question: Is vegetable-tanned leather real leather? Yes, vegetable-tanned leather is indeed real leather. It's an authentic and natural form of leather derived from animal hides, just like other leather types such as chrome-tanned leather or oil-tanned leather. It´s a type of leather that has been used for centuries due to its natural and artisanal qualities. What sets it apart from other types of leather is the tanning method. Unlike its chemically-treated counterparts, vegetable tanned leather undergoes a natural tanning process using plant-based tannins, such as oak, chestnut, and other trees and plants. These tannins work to preserve the leather and give it a distinct character, resulting in a product that ages beautifully over time. 
The process of creating vegetable tanned leather involves soaking the hide in a tanning solution made from these plant-based tannins. This solution gradually transforms the raw animal hide into a supple and robust material that can withstand the test of time. The natural tanning process is considerably lengthier, but unlike chemical alternatives, is renowned for its environmental sustainability and its ability to develop a unique patina as it ages, making each piece a unique work of art. The journey of vegetable tanned leather is not just about crafting a product; it's a tribute to the heritage, quality, and the beauty of nature's tannins.

Is vegetable-tanned leather better than chrome-tanned leather?

The comparison between vegetable-tanned leather and chrome-tanned leather is not necessarily a matter of one being generally "better" than the other, but rather a consideration of their respective strengths and intended use. Vegetable-tanned leather is favored for its natural, artisanal qualities and eco-friendliness. It's a preferred choice for products such as high-end leather goods, belts, saddles, and wallets. This type of leather has the unique ability to age gracefully and develop a rich patina over time, which is cherished by many for its individual character.
On the other hand, chrome-tanned leather is praised for its water-repellent properties, softer texture, and faster production cycle. Due to its flexibility and lower production costs, it is commonly used in products such as shoes, handbags and upholstered furniture. However, the chrome tanning process involves chemicals, raising environmental concerns, and it doesn't age and develop a patina like vegetable tanned leather.
So whether one is better than the other depends on your specific needs and values. If you value a natural, timeless look and are willing to invest in long-lasting goods, vegetable-tanned leather could be your choice. However, if you need a more supple and water-repellent material for a specific application, chrome-tanned leather may better suit your needs. Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to your personal preferences and the intended use of the leather.

How to care for vegetable-tanned leather products?

Caring for your vegetable tanned leather products is essential to ensure their longevity and maintain their beautiful patina. To keep your items looking their best, follow these simple steps. First, regularly clean your leather using a soft, damp cloth to remove dirt and dust. Allow it to air dry, avoiding direct sunlight or heat sources that can cause drying and cracking. Second, apply a leather conditioner or cream to moisturize the leather and prevent it from drying out. This step is especially crucial in dry or humid climates. Third, store your leather goods in a cool, dry place when not in use, and consider using dust bags to shield them from environmental factors. If your leather eventually gets wet, let it air dry naturally, away from direct heat. Do not rush the drying process with a hairdryer or heater, as this may cause deformation or cracking. With these straightforward care practices, your vegetable-tanned leather products will not only stand the test of time, but also develop a unique character that tells the story of their use and care.
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