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Why Vegetable-Tanned Leather?

Posted on 19 October 2016

One of our mainstays here at North End Bag Company is the vegetable-tanned leather we use to make just about all of our products. We personally love this textile because its rich and buttery texture after a little wear is not only exquisite, it is also unique. Over time, the leather softens and begins to bear the marks of countless adventures as well as daily comings and goings.

But let’s slow down a bit. Before we go into why vegetable-tanned leather is (probably…well, it really is) the best choice for our bags, it’s worth a look going into why we feel it’s the most responsible choice and therefore, the logical choice for our team.

Let’s take a look at what it’s not. Vegetable tanning (as the name would suggest) is not an unnatural chemical process that could potentially harm the environment or the consumer. No chemicals here (we’ll get into the veggie tan process in a bit). Some of the more common leather tanning processes today involve some not-so-friendly chemicals.

Take for example chrome tanning. This is probably the most popular (and somewhat controversial) process on the market. It’s fast, effective and produces a soft and uniform leather. Sounds good, right? Here's how it works. Raw leather is painted and dyed with strong chromium salts that are actually harmful to the environment. As one blog described it, “it is a carcinogenic, persistent and indestructible chemical.”  Big words…it doesn’t sound good.

Another method for tanning leather is aldehyde-tanning. While this method is said to be  “chromium-free,” the end result is not as luxurious and uniform as others. It’s is a bit blanched (almost white). Additionally, the process (regarded as somewhat dangerous) involves formaldehyde, which is pretty toxic and not environmentally friendly.

If we revisit our blog on Conscientious Consumers and the reason WHY we started North End Bag Company, the only leather-tanning solution that makes sense for our team is vegetable-tanned leather. It’s consumer and environmentally friendly. No harmful chemicals required. This process is…well, for lack of a better word: old. It’s an artisanal process that uses natural tannic acids found in plant species using barks, branches, leaves and even some fruits to create a finished product that is natural, woody and earthy. It’s pretty glorious…most importantly, it’s environmentally responsible.

So, there are some setbacks to vegetable-tanned leather. It takes a while…two months to be exact...and it’s hard to find workers with the skill set to complete this process. This makes it a bit pricey. However, the benefits outweigh the cons. First off, the process is environmentally responsible and cannot harm the consumer. The finished product is unique, genuine, natural and looks like caramel. It’s gorgeous. Not only is the finished product more organic looking, this process leaves the leather more durable and rugged.

We appreciate the fact that artisan craftsmen use an age-old method to craft something truly exquisite. That’s what we’re looking for here at North End Bag Company. We are committed to creating something beautiful that will stand the test of time. That’s our promise to you. We understand that, as a conscientious consumer, you have a choice. Our vegetable-tanned leather is another reason why consumers who care, choose to get their bags from us. It’s the highest quality and the best process.

Vegetable-tanned leather is genuine and it also tells your story. The more you use it, the more exquisite it becomes. It’s not just about functionality…it’s about the intimacy of the relationship between the consumer and the product. Vegetable-tanned leather is the natural canvas for that relationship. Our bags are intended to accompany their owners on their everyday adventures. Even though those adventures are not always exotic, they are significant. The more adventures you have, the more the leather reflects the story of the owner. It becomes a tapestry of experiences.

We believe that adventure can be found in the every day as well as the not-so-everyday. Our bags were designed to accompany you on all of them. The vegetable-tanned leather is our favorite choice of textile because it is environmentally responsible, exquisite and personal. For every bag we make, we know that it will truly become a part of someone's life. It will be unique and special to the owner. That makes us feel pretty good…we think it should make you feel pretty good too. It’s a nice feeling, knowing something made by our hands can really become something so special in yours.

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2 comments

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  • Mom: October 19, 2016

    So proud! Great information!

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