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Why Vegetable Tanned Leather?

by Andrea Randolph |

Buttery soft with a beautifully sweet smell, it’s hard to deny the full sensory experience and sumptuous feel of an elegantly crafted leather accessory, which is why we love to use high quality Italian vegetable-tanned leather for our collections. If you’re new to the term, “vegetable-tanning” is a method that dates back to ancient times and was practiced by the Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. While the technique declined in the 19th century, it’s experiencing a new renaissance because of the need for beautiful artisanal quality leather and more environmentally sustainable practices.

While it takes a bit longer to achieve the dying process with natural ingredients, the result is worth the wait. The leather hasn’t been over-treated and over-processed, and it’s enhanced with a beautiful patina that gets better with age and accents its unique characteristics. Steeped in tradition, vegetable-tanning is an intensive 30- to 40-day process. The leather is dyed in drums using tannins derived from plants, wood and tree bark. Unlike chrome-tanned leather - which uses modern machinery and harsh chemicals to complete the tanning within a day - vegetable-tanning is an eco-friendly method and is free of toxic chemicals. Chrome tanning could be considered a harsher tanning process that actually strips the leather of much of its strength and aesthetic properties.

Our tannery partner, who is the source for many of the world’s top luxury fashion houses, is known for their innovative techniques and commitment to sustainability initiatives. We appreciate that at the tannery, every effort is made to minimize environmental impact — protecting social values and fully respecting environmental laws. Research and development is invested heavily in finding new ways to improve the process and to continue reducing the manufacturing footprint in small and large ways such as retreating waste water each year.

Participating in conscious consumerism doesn’t have to be a difficult or confusing choice. We love using vegetable-tanned leather to help make that choice even easier — celebrating the beautiful quality of the material and the eco-friendly care and heritage craftsmanship that is infused into every fiber of our Findlay bags.