Dying or giving color to leather is not an easy task to do, in fact it is a delicate and long process to achieve. For example Italy is one of the largest and greatest producers of the best leather internationally. The animal skin goes through a tanning process before receiving its final color in the Italian tannery. Italy, where I work, has been considered on an international level as one of the largest and greatest producers of high quality leather. I was surprised, because, yes, leather is “made,” it is not born leather. Working for the design and public relations in a prominent leather factory, helped me understand the steps that the animal skins take to become leather. I never thought that making even a pair gloves could be so difficult. Producing leather is hard and very costly, but the results are well worth the beauty.
The animal skin goes through several cleaning procedures called the tanning process. The fat, flesh and hair are removed. Then the skins are rubbed all over with wet salt until the dead skin is peeled off and skins get softer. After it has been treated with salt for a few months the skin is soaked in water to keep away dangerous and disfiguring bacteria (this process also assures the excess fat will be completely removed.) There are two different tanning process: vegetable tanning and mineral tanning. The process which is chosen depends on the type of performance which is required of the leather. Mineral tanning is used when you want to have a softer leather which can be used for more delicate light weight leather goods such as: handbags and leather clothing and jackets. Instead the vegetable tanning is a longer process and it is used to create a more rigid and/or stiffer leather. It is perfect for sporting equipment or leather accessories such as belts and luggage. The leather will be stronger and more resistant. It is only after a few days of absorbing the color and then a few more days when the leather dries out that it is ready for leather merchandise.