Vegetable tanning is an artisan tradition that the tanneries associated to the Genuine Italian Vegetable-Tanned Leather Consortium have handed down from father to son for over 200 years, using both antique recipes and state-of-the-art technology.
The transformation from raw hides into a material that will resist throughout time is a process that slowly happens into wooden drums, in full respect of man and the environment. An astonishing process based on the use of natural tannins extracted from chestnut or Argentinean quebracho trees, on modern technologies and machineries and, mainly, on the slow passing of time… all the time necessary. Nearly forty days are actually needed to transform raw hides into unique vegetable-tanned leathers.
Among the various tanning methods, the vegetable tanning is still nowadays the most classical, the most traditional, the most recognisable, the only one able to give leather unique characteristics, the most natural, the most environmental-friendly. It is able to join comfort and look, fashion and tradition, uniqueness and versatility of the product. For all these reasons, the vegetable tanning belongs both to the past and to the future of mankind.
The vegetable tanning process is based on the use of tannin, active ingredient responsible for the transformation of the animal hide into a compact and resistant material durable through the years, properly called cuoio (vegetable-tanned leather). This natural substance can be found in many different trees and vegetables, in variable concentration according to the different species. It is sometimes contained in the bark, others in the leaves, in the wood or in the fruits as well as in the roots. These natural tannin extracts (namely chestnut- and quebracho tree-) make the vegetable-tanned leather unique, immediately recognisable and easily distinguishable from leather tanned with other methods: also the scent of vegetable-tanned leather is something inimitable. It perfectly combines with that of the human body generating a feeling of confidence and naturalness in a person’s mind that unconsciously tends to prefer it among other materials.
The modern tanning industry uses tannin extracts in liquid form or in powders. The most common and antique of them is the quebracho tree extract, a tree indigenous of Argentina. From its bark a characteristically red-coloured powder can be obtained that gives the leather unmistakable warm and brilliant shade together with a compact texture more resistant against water and atmospheric agents.
Vegetable-tanned leather absorbs the traces of our living, it becomes older without ruining. The natural ageing does not compromise its resistance and gives it a vintage look with warm colour shades showing evidence of being a natural product. No leather looks like any other, its peculiar characteristics offer a wide range of possible interpretations in shape and design. Designers can find a material able to add value to a project of fashion, consumers can find a product overcoming fashion and trends and gaining value with the passing of time.