What is vegetable tanned leather?

Let me start by clarifying something.
Vegetable tanned leather is not ''vegan leather''. You can learn more about vegan leather in this article but for now, let's just say that vegetable tanned leather is real leather and is a lot more durable than faux leather.

As you probably know, real leather comes from animals. What you may don't know is that hides used in the production of leather derive from animals raised for the food industry. Being able to transform their waste into leather and then crafted into durable products is a genius way to reuse this natural material in this world where a lot of products are heavily transformed and derived from petrol.

So, what is vegetable tanned leather?

The process for transforming theses hides into leather is called tanning.
The method consists to converts the protein of the raw hide into a stable material which is essential for making leather goods.

There are two main types of tanning process; vegetable tanned leather and chrome tanned leather.

Let's compare some of their differences:

Vegetable tanned leather
  • The original way of tanning leather, used for many centuries.
  • The tanning process is made using tannins extracted from vegetable matter, such as tree bark.
  • Known for its eco-friendly production without chemicals.
  • Produce leather that will age beautifully by developing a natural patina.

Chrome tanned leather

  • Made using chromium salts and mix of chemicals instead of tannins.
  • Bad environmental impacts due to loads of toxic wastewater if left untreated.
  • The most common method in modern use (over 90% of the world leather production).

After reading this comparison, I'm sure you're wondering why the chrome tanned leather is more popular in the industry than the eco-friendly vegetable tanned process?

Well, there are many reasons...

First of all, chrome tanned leather is a quick process compared to the vegetable tanned method. It can take 1 day instead of 14-30 days and even more for vegetable tanned leather! This makes the production cost way more appealing for the tanneries. It also explains why vegetable tanned leather is considered to be higher-end material and are more expensive than leather with other types of tanning process.

Also, chrome tanned leather is known to be really soft and suitable for making a lot of mass-produced items such as clothing, boots and furniture.

Why we choose vegetable tanned leather

We truly care about our environmental impact. Not only for the production process of our raw material, but also for the durability of the product we make. Vegetable tanned leather is well known for it's unique way to age over time by developing a natural patina which gives character to the product (which we love!).

The bonus is, we can get beautiful vegetable tanned leather, made just a couple hours away from Montreal. This amazing tannery is called Wickett & Craig and we are proud to support them.

© Photos and videos from Wickett & Craig.  

Fabrice Lallemand
Febuary 22th 2022

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