Vegetable tanned leather v/s Chrome tanned leather
My first pair of handmade vegetable tanned leather sandals was gifted to me by my sister when I was a teenager. I loved this pair. I remember the soft leather sole and the laces wrapped around my ankles as I wore it proudly like a Greek woman from antiquity. I wore those sandals everywhere I went and the material seemed to last forever. Those sandals were made by a Lebanese artisan who used to sell his goods out of a tiny shop on the corner of a street in Beirut.
Rodney and I have always loved vegetable tanned leather products. We tend to handpick handmade leather goods during our travels with joy and passion. A leather pouch from this shop, a leather backpack from another one, some leather accessories for the pleasure of it and why not add a leather sketchbook too! All these goods are usually made by artisans in small shops, using different grades of vegetable tanned leather.
What is vegetable tanned leather?
It is a beautiful leather cut that was treated with tree barks, acorns and other natural elements over weeks to bring out the natural softness and beauty of this highly desirable material. Vegetable tanning is all natural which explains the long time needed to get the leather cut ready. On the other hand, the most commercialized leather is chrome tanned meaning that it is treated with chromium and the process takes one day only. This leather is mainly used during fast and mass production but it is very popular amongst makers and buyers alike because of its stunning colors. Chrome tanned leather is used by most luxury brands and the colors are indeed beautiful. However, this leather reacts with metals over time and this detail must be taken into consideration during the design process. Also, chrome tanned leather is attractive at first sight but the aging process is not that exciting to my opinion.
In RG's workshop, Rodney mainly uses vegetable tanned leather because it is naturally treated with no harmful chemicals polluting the water. In addition to that, vegetable tanned leather is excellent for molding, carving and shaping, to the opposite of the chrome tanned leather that seems to be boring when it comes to manipulating it with tools and creativity. Vegetable tanned leather ages beautifully, developing a leather patina while revealing natural leather blemishes. It's durability is incontestable and it could be dyed like you've seen it in our catalog. This being said, it is also important to mention that Rodney did use chrome tanned leather in several occasions while repurposing and reusing old leather jackets, boots and bags to give it a new life.
When it comes to choosing the right material, it is best to go with the one that goes with your lifestyle and fashion choices.