VEGETABLE TANNED LEATHER
Vegetable tanning has been a vital part of Tuscan traditions for centuries.
It is the oldest and most natural way of tanning animal hides.
Vegetable-Tanned Leather is treated only with natural substances found in tree bark: Tannin, the key for soft, malleable and timeless leather.
Based on a heritage of traditional techniques developed over centuries, the vegetable tanning process results in leather with a distinct appearance and unmatched durability.
Through several weeks of gentle and nurturing treatment, the vegetable-tanned leather becomes softer, more resistant and gains a much longer life than chrome-tanned leather.
UNDYED VEGETABLE TANNED LEATHER AGING
When you get your brand new undyed vegetable-tanned leather good, it looks a natural color. The hide is effectively naked and so will age and darken with the sun just like your own skin. Aging will continue to darken your leather. Normal wear will darken the leather as air, light, the oils of your skin, and other environmental factors do their work, eventually developing a rich color and patina. Sun exposure, daily handling, water, and conditioning give natural vegetable tanned leather a rustic look over time.
The aging process of leather takes time. After a while, you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous patina that makes your product one-of-a-kind. Patina development depends on what type of product you have and how you use it – a small, natural vegetable tanned leather wallet may age much more quickly than a large leather bag that isn’t used and handled as much. You can speed up the aging process if you’re impatient to see results. Using a natural leather balm or more exposure to the sun will darken your leather.
HANDCRAFT PRODUCTION MADE IN ITALY
Since that time the tanning industry, mainly the Tuscan one, is considered a world leader for the various techniques and technologies. Today the leather district is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises, each of them specialized by type of processing and by product destination. From the point of view of quality, the Italian product, but specially the Tuscan one, is considered the first in the world.
As for the leather masters (the first present since the 1300s) they carried out their trade on the banks of the Arno river and then moved to Piazza Santa Croce, where via delle Conce and Via dei Conciatori still exist. Over the centuries, the profession of these Florentine workers has increasingly refined becoming the flagship of Tuscan craftsmanship. By the second half of the 18th century the leather district had extended to 20 municipalities among the provinces of Florence, Pisa and Arezzo. It is in Florence that leather goods reign supreme with artisan workshops scattered around its province. In the center of Florence it is very easy to immerse yourself in one shop and another.
FIRST CHOICE LEATHERS ONLY
Skins of calf, lamb and goat coming exclusively from european farms are made by italian companies with European Quality Certificate, where the raw material is treated with the utmost respect of the stricter regulations anti-pollution. We select, from these companies, only first-choice and full-grain leathers (the most precious part, the surface, where it is possible to see the pore and the grains of leather), dyed in barrels with natural aniline. Reptiles like crocodile, pythone, alligator, caiman and exotic skins like shark and pure-bred respond to the need of producing exclusive and refined items. Metals and small metal parts: locks, chains, rings, hooks, clamps, eyelets and different ornaments are subjected to strict electroplating tests to verify respect for the resistance to the manipulation, strength and resilience standards. Yarns: hand sewing and by sewing machine are realized with the most precious yarns on the market, like linen and cotton, selected for the different usages. Tissues: jute, cotton, wool, silk and cachemire are strictly natural and handmade by production companies.
THE PROCESS OF VEGETABLE TANNING
Step 1: Pre Tanning
First, the hides have to be prepped. So they spend a couple days rehydrating the hides and removing the hair. The whole hide is cut into two pieces called sides.
Step 2: Tanning
The split hides are then put into large vats filled with natural tannins. Some of these natural tannins include tree bark. The hides spend a couple of weeks soaking in this tanning liquor and must be frequently tended to in order to ensure full absorption. The hides are then removed, excess moisture is taken out and they are shaved to the desired thickness (from the backside).
For vegetable tanned leather that isn’t dyed, this is nearing the end of the road. That type of veg tan leather has a pale almost pinkish color to it. But the veg tan leather we use is further dyed to create the rich color and character that makes our leather so unique.
Step 3: Dyeing, Hot Stuffing, Drying
The tanned hides arrive at this step as a blank canvas and ready to be infused with rich color and character. The hides are dyed in enormous drums that look something like a wine barrel on steroids that rotates in the air.
Our leather is then hot stuffed, which is a special process that literally stuffs the leather hide to its core with waxes and tallows that give it a rich color and make it more durable.
After that, the hides are dried and staked. Staking is a process that softens up the leather just a bit.
Step 4: Finishing the Leather
In this stage, the hides are sprayed another time with waxes and a sealant for protection.
The entire process is very time and labor intensive, taking up to six weeks to complete.