Vegetable tanned leather, what does it mean and why would you care?
What is tanning?
Tanning is the method of converting any animal skin into leather. An animal skin is first turned into a hide by way of degreasing it entirely and removing all of its hair.
This is viewed as the initial pre-step before tanning can be started. This step is very important because if the animal skin is not treated accordingly, the skin would harden itself and end up putrefied.
Remember that it is an organic material? So, the tanning process was developed to prevent the animal skin from decay. And this is done by turning animal hide into leather, then leather into those beautiful, sturdy goods we have come to use today.
Vegetable tanning is a chromium free method of preparing the leather for wear and does not use harmful chemicals. It is an old-world, artisanal process where tannic acids are used from nature like bark, leaves, rosemary.
'Normal leather' versus 'Vegetable tanned leather'
Tanning with chromium is a quicker process than tanning with plants: it requires less than 24 hours to make, while 1 month minimum is necessary to complete green tanning. The mineral tanning is also very versatile: the chromium tanned leathers can be quite thin, can become very soft, and are available in a great variety of colors. They can be used almost in all areas (footwear, leather goods, automotive ...). This tanning process has therefore become predominant in the leather industry. 99% of leather shoes are made from chromium tanning.
But to use vegetable tanned leather has benefits - for the environment and for you!
This is our BOTTINES' Hydra sandal showing the vegtanned leather in its natural colour, a brownish beige with a natural, woody and earthy smell. Better for the environment and it ages beautifully. So I try to always use a vegetable tanned option in our shoes if they are available! This one is made in Crete #supportgreece