Two Types of Leather

When it comes to leather, buzzwords abound…

Full grain.
Veg tanned.
Split skin.

…and on and on and on.

It is helpful to understand that there are basically two types of 100% leather in the market place…and really, the difference isn’t in the material itself, but the process of transforming the raw cowhide into a usable good that will last.

One isn’t necessarily better than the other, they’re just different.

There’s vegetable tanning and there’s mineral tanning.

Veg tanning has been around for literally thousands of years. People would dig pits, fill them with natural tannins (usually bark from trees that help preserve the leather) and throw the hides into the pits with the tannins for extended periods of time. Because of how inefficient it is, only 10% of the world’s hides are vegetable tanned. The simple way of understanding veg tanned leather is that it is ADDING natural tannins into the hide to displace the water. That’s why it’s often a heavier more full bodied leather.

Mineral tanning, often called chrome tanning, was invented in 1858 and makes up 90% of the leather market. It’s a significantly faster process and the chrome molecules are much smaller than the natural tannins, which usually translates to a lighter weight and softer leather that’s less susceptible to water stains.

The handmade leather we use in our collection is chrome tanned leather than comes from a tannery near Venice, Italy. We chose the leather we did, because it is light weight, strong, and also soft. It was important to us to have a leather that could be taken outside, rained on, and would be unaffected.

We don’t expect every person to want to become a leather expert well versed in the vernacular, but we do know that you can sense quality when you see it. One of the reasons we happily send potential customers a swatch of our leather is so that they can decide for themselves the quality and feel of the hide we use. Because, after all, we can call leather a hundred names, but if you don’t like how it looks or feels in your hand, then what’s the point?

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