natural, vegetable-dyed rawhide at updn – “made to stay” leather luggage & leather goods
Vegetable tanned means that the process of leather coloring is achieved with tannins and other vegetable ingredients. One of the most used materials is tree bark. Vegetable tanning is an ancient, traditional method done by hand by skilled artisans. It is a long process that can stretch to 60 days. By taking advantage of natural tannins, vegetable tanned leather actually gets better with age rather than degrading. The leather initially feels firmer than chrome-dyed leather, but then quickly softens and becomes supple, developing a rich patina on the surface. One could say that vegetable tanned leather is like a living organism that reacts to its environment.
On the market you can mostly find leather colored with chrome. Chemicals, acids and salts (including chromium sulphate) are used to color this. It’s a quick process that only takes a day. This makes it easy to mass produce, but unfortunately also extremely harmful to the environment and the workers who come into contact with the chrome.
Our wallets, belts, bags and accessories are made in Munich from the best European leather. We dye these with natural, plant-derived dyes and don’t use any of the chemicals used in conventional leather manufacturing today. Vegetable tanned leather is becoming increasingly rare as many companies switch from traditional methods to mass production using chrome. These leathers are often produced under unsustainable conditions and almost always contain toxic substances.
Natural elements such as the sun or the oils in your skin cause vegetable-tanned leather to develop a fantastic patina. With our natural products colored with plant extracts, the shade of the item will change and darken over time. This is one of the special beauties of our unique leather. This is a normal development and should be expected as the leather develops a patina and history of its own. Vegetable tanning emphasizes the natural characteristics of leather, which make each product unique. You may find small marks such as scars or insect bites from the animal and unlike mass processed leather these are not hidden by many layers of pigmented colour. Each skin absorbs color differently and as a result there are minimal variations in the tone of our leather. We dye and process all our products in our workshop.
For us, sustainability is another important aspect of vegetable tanned leather. It is 100% a by-product of the meat industry. Also, we can supervise every process from dyeing to finishing in our workshop. Our leather is the most suitable leather for people who are otherwise prone to allergic skin reactions. I’ve always loved other companies’ leather products made from conventionally dyed leather, until one day I got a rash from belts and watch straps myself. A good reason to switch to vegetable tanned leather!
Vegetable-tanned UPDN leather goods have a different feel and smell compared to other leather: our leather smells soft and soothing and invites you to touch it. The subtle variations in grain and color from piece to piece are exciting and beautiful. You will see how vegetable tanned leather changes over time. What begins as a pale nude color on the undyed products slowly evolves into a warm cognac or chestnut brown. The final color will vary from golden to reddish brown due to the different tannins used in the tanning process. This change can be accelerated by applying oil or exposure to the sun. Just as your skin can get a tan, so does vegetable tanned leather.