natural vegetable tanned raw leather at updn- made to stay leather goods!
“Vegetable tanned” means the process of tanning leather has been achieved with tannins, and other ingredients found in plant matter – most commonly tree bark. Vegetable tanning is an age old traditional method, which is often done by hand, by skilled artisans. It is a lengthy process from start to finish, which can take up to 60 days. By the use of natural tannins, vegetable tanned leather improves rather than degrades with age. It starts out with a firmer temper – feeling stiffer than chrome tanned leather – and then becomes soft and supple, and develops a rich patina on it’s surface. In a sense, vegetable tanned leather is like a living organism, responding to it’s environment.
Chrome tanned leather makes up the majority of the leather you will find on the retail market. Chrome tanning employs the use of chemicals, acids and salts (including chromium sulphate), and the process is quick, taking only one day. It is easily mass produced, and highly toxic to the environment, as well as the people involved in the tanning process. Leather tanned with chemicals doesn’t wear well, and eventually often cracks and becomes brittle.
We use traditional manufacturers in Europe who are experts at working with thick vegetable tanned leathers. As they are “naked” leathers, they have to be handled very carefully. It’s a very intensive process but creates a superior individually handcrafted product. You can expect to hand them to your kids looking better than they did when they were first crafted, becoming much softer and having a history of their own.
Our wallets, belts, bags and accessories are made in Munich in Germany using the finest European hides. They are dyed using natural vegetable dyes and do not use any of the chemicals that the majority of leather being produced today does. Vegetable tanned leathers are becoming increasingly rare as companies switch from traditional methods of tanning leather using vegetable extracts to mass produced chrome tanned leathers which more often than not are produced under un-sustainable conditions, and almost always with toxic susbstances.
Vegetable tanned leather develop a gorgeous patina the more they are used and the more they are exposed to the natural elements such as sunlight and oils from your skin. With the natural vegetable tanned goods, the shade of the product will change with and will get darker – this is one of the real beauties of this unique leather. This is a normal and should be expected as the leather develops a patina and a story of it’s own. Vegetable tanned leathers display natural characteristics of the leather which make each bag unique. There may be small marks such as scars or insect bites and unlike mass produced bags, these marks are not hidden by layers of pigmented paint. Each hide absorbs the dyes differently and there are slight variations in the shade of the leather, yes we hand dye and finish all our products in our workshop.
But one of the most important factors about choosing to use vegetable tanned leather is the fact that it is really sustainable, being that we control and do every process of the dying, finishing and making of the products, and that it is the most suitable leather to use for people who are prone to allergic skin effects. I always loved leather products from other companies using conventionally tanned leather but I came out in a terrible skin rash when I used them next to my skin, on belts or watch straps for example, a good reason to swap to vegetable tanned goods.
UPDN vegetable tanned leather goods immediately smell and feel difference, the smell is soft and comforting, and you are invited to touch. The subtle variation in grain and color from piece to piece is exciting and beautiful. You will notice the change that occurs over time in vegetable tanned leather. What begins a pale flesh tone on the un-dyed goods, gradually transforms to a rich chestnut or cognac brown colour. The end color will vary somewhat, depending on the exact tannins used – from reddish brown to golden brown. This change can be accelerated with the application of oil, and with sun exposure. Just as your skin can get a suntan, so will vegetable tanned leather, and your product ages with you!.
so these are the reasons why we at updn leather goods choose to go the natural way!
Here is a good descriptive article about all types of leather tanning and their damaging effects effects on us as users.