Vegetable tanning is an eco-friendly process widely known for giving the leather material more durability and help it maintain versatility. "Tanning" is the process of converting animal skin into leather that we can use in production of accessories. This process is used by Bellroy to manufacture its wallets, and by aunts&uncles to produce its well-made handbags, satchels and messenger laptop leather bags. Used for centuries, "tanners" regularly run the process and supply finest leather material to brands.
Wallets are an important area for utilising this type of leather. As they are in & out of pockets constantly and carry daily essentials, people are after string, hard-wearing material and strong products. The looks are still important, men's wallets ought to be stylish and functional with a touch of style.
When it comes to ladies' world, vegetable tanned leather is widely used. Zipper purses, make-up bags, shopper, handbag, purse with clip or flap, crossbody bags, hip bags & frame purses all utilise this material and make a fashionable difference. Vintage style or 2nd hand / worn-out looks are favourite.
During the design of products, there is no loss of functionality or limitation either. Designers are able to dream as far as they can and produce wallets that can accomodate passports, ladies leather handbags or messenger courier bags with tablet or laptop compartments, purses with cotton-lining and lots of internal pockets / compartments as well as business bags with laptop compartment.
You will easily see in these products, vegetable-tanned leather products darken in time and develop a natural patina with exposure to natural elements in their environment like sun, water, oxygen and oil. After several years, a vegetable tanned product can acquire a rich unique patina that is strikingly different from how it looked when brand new, hence making your item unique in the way it looks. That is why brands like aunts&uncles showcase different tones of brown (hazelnut, coffee..as in Good Old Friends collection) and models like Puppy, Joker, Heartbreaker...
Vegetable tanned leathers are prepared using tannin and other ingredients that are found easily in the environment (leaves, roots, fruits..), hence boosting the natural aspect of the material. A good example is the tree bark prepared in bark mills. Tannin is the natural element that gives the leather immunity against decay and prevents it from shrinking as time goes by. As vegetable taning is an environmentally friendly process; any leather products that have been vegetable tanned can be recycled.
Oak bark, hemlock bark as well as chestnut wood are chief sources of tannin used in leather industries worldwide. Tannin sources are widespread across the globe: the wood of the quebracho tree found in South America, mangrove bark from the island of Borneo, wattle bark from South Africa, and myrobalan fruit from India.
The most common tannins are obtained from (to give a nice comprehensive list of elements with their latin names ) Chestnut wood (Castanea sativa), Quebracho wood (Schinopsis lorentzii), Tara pods (Caesalpinia spinosa), Catechu (Acacia Catechu), Chinese gallnut (Rhustyphina semialata), Gambier (Uncaria gambir), Mimosa bark (Acacia meamsii), Oak wood (Quercus sp), Sumac (Rhustyphina coriaria), Turkish gallnut (Quercus infectoria) and Valonia Oak (Quercus macrolepis).
During the vegetable tanning process, the raw hides hang from rocking frames in a sequence of vats containing increasingly stronger tannin solutions, called liquors. After a period of roughly couple of weeks, the hides are moved to a "layaway" section, which consists of larger vats containing still stronger liquors.
Each week more tannin substance is added to the liquor, until the hides absorb adequate amount of tannin and naturally complete the development period. The use of warm liquors would usually speed up the final stage of tanning. The result is fine leather material to be used for bags, wallets & purses, luggage and belts with a great interesting vintage look.Date: 02/05/14