What is vegetable tanned leather?
Vegetable tanned refers to a tanning method that uses vegetable liquors derived from tree barks and other botanicals. Vegetable tanning (veg tanning for short) is very traditional and takes longer to achieve than chrome tanning. Unfortunately the vast majority of leather goods currently made via chrome tanning. Because it is a more laborious and time consuming process to make, veg tanned leather costs more than chrome tanned leather.
We are committed to using veg tanned leather for several reasons:
1. Veg tanned leather is significantly less impactful on the environment. It does not create harmful, chemical waste as is created with chrome tanned leather.
2. Veg tanned leather gets better with age and is meant to last. It will not crack or dry out. In fact, with more use it does the opposite. It will patina, soften, and gently mold. One of our greatest joys is when customers show us their Pennyroyal carryalls which have been put to heavy use. They look so beautiful!
3. By purchasing American made veg tanned leather we are helping to protect a trade which has become almost extinct in the US. Very few businesses have the knowledge and equipment to offer industrial scale veg tanned leather. We are happy to have them in our supply chain.
Where do we source our veg tanned leather?
Almost all of our leathers are from Wicket & Craig in Curwensville, Pennsylvania. The hides harvested are from cattle raised for meat on ranches in The Dakotas and Canada, ensuring nothing goes to waste. You can read more about Wicket & Craig’s leather here.
We also source from Horween Leather Company, founded in 1905. Horween leather products include traditional, old world tannages and techniques, carefully updated with modern applications. Today, their leathers are still made by hand, the same way as generations ago.
We source our hair-on-hide locally and it is aluminum tanned. Unfortunately aluminum tanning falls somewhere between veg tanning and chrome tanning in terms of its environmental impact. We are always on the look out for a more sustainable option!