What is vegetable leather tanning and why it matters to you?

Making leather is a complicated process. Leather is made of animal skin such as cow, horses and sometimes exotic animals like alligators, snake and ostriches. Different types of animal skins have different properties from appearance to durability making them desirable for various purposes in making products like bags, shoes, accessories, etc.

The leather tanning process dates back to ancient days where animal skin was historically used for protective clothing and housing. However, hides by themselves would not last the test of weather or time, so they discovered ways to tan the hides to both strengthen and preserve the leather.

Vegetable tanning is one of the ancient methods still used in the modern era. This is the process of using tannins to preserve, strengthen and color leather. This process uses wood, roots, leaves, and fruits of plants to tan the animal skin and create rich, earthy colors. The various sources of tannins create different colors. The traditional process of vegetable tanning leather is fairly time consuming, requiring soaking leather hides in the tannins for months. Due to its time consuming and laborious process, this type of tanning is nearly distinct; only 10% of all leather produced today uses this method of tanning.

Other Types of Tanning Processes:

The most popular alternative of tanning process is chrome tanning. Chrome tanning uses harmful chemicals, such as chromium sulphate, that usually get discarded into our waterways and pollute our environment. This method of leather tanning is most popular in the fashion industry due to its’ quick turnaround rate, often taking just 24 hours to produce. While chrome tanned leather is drastically quicker and cheaper than vegetable tanned leather, its quality is largely diminished whilst posing significant risks to the environment. This method of tanning also does not require craftsmanship or special attention to the details of the product.

Why We Choose Vegetable Tanning:

Not many people are aware of this method of tanning leather and the few who know, highly appreciate it. It is natural, better for the environment and produces high quality leather that stands the test of time. Vegetable tanning also creates a sturdier and long-lasting leather. What’s more, the vegetable tan leather enhances with age, increasing the value and aesthetic appeal of the product itself.

Saint Lombard exclusively uses the highest-grade vegetable tanned leather sourced from the heart of Tuscany where the tanneries specialize in adopting the ancient, time consuming and labor-intensive vegetable tanning process. This process is environmentally safe and lacks any hazardous chemicals. We use an environmentally friendly, sustainable, traditional process that helps enhance the product quality and life.

Vegetable Leather Care

Whereas vegetable leather products are incredibly durable, proper care is recommended. To prolong a product’s lifetime, be sure to nourish the leather with a leather balm every few months. This will ensure that your vegetable leather product is shiny, strong and resistant. It’s best to keep your vegetable leather products in a cool area, away from high temperature as vegetable leather can crack under extreme heat.

Our Commitment to Quality

At Saint Lombard, we handcraft our leather bags mindfully; considering factors that not only beneficial to our customers, but our planet as well. To produce the fashionable yet functional Saint Lombard bags, we partner with Tuscan artisans, just outside of Florence, Italy, who have been tanning and working leather the same way for centuries. We choose to work solely with Italian tanneries that source leather cast off from the meat industry, use the exceptional vegetable tanning process, and go beyond requirements to recycle waste in an environmentally responsible way. This dedication to exceptional materials and craftsmanship results in pieces that stand the test of time. Down to the smallest stitch, every bag is of the best possible quality. Our bags are not produced—they are crafted, therefore giving every bag the attention that is required to create a bag that you can call truly yours.

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