Leather breathes; it absorbs from its environment and gives back according to the quality of the raw material and tanning process. It’s alive! And you really should think of it that way when you are checking out your next cross body purse, shoulder bag or briefcase.
Most leathers used in bags, especially those with fancy colors, prints and designs are tanned with chemicals which manipulate the leather and effect it’s life span and ability to withstand being tossed, battered, carried and toted!
Actually what is often now considered an alternative method of tanning was once a principal way of passing color and texture to leather. The vegetable tanned method uses the “tannins” (just like the ones we talk about when discussing a good wine) to soft and color the leather before turning it into the latest messenger bag or designer leather handbag.
Tannins bind to the proteins in the hide causing them to become less water-soluble and more resistant to bacterial attack. The process also causes the hide to become more flexible. The color of the finished product is a result of the type of tree bark that is used during the tanning process.
Think environmental friendly! Though all tanning processes will have environmental issues to be dealt with, the idea of using natural tannins such as those found in chestnut, oak, hemlock and wattle bark are definitely more environmental friendly than the chemical compounds used in chrome or mineral tanning. Not only are the less abrasive to the Earth but also to the leather itself, allowing for a soft and supple texture.
Inhale the sweet perfume of leather. The result of a vegetable tanning process is often a product that has the rich perfume of leather and not a chemical or fishy odor. Or even no smell at all! If anything the delicious perfume of leather is always a wonderful testament to the genuine article.
Vintage look without the vintage time. One of the more prized characteristics of vegetable tanned leather is the texture . . . which we like to say is like a fine wine, it ages with grace and gets better with time. Vegetable dyed leather will often have a more delicate coloring, which will leave the texture of the raw hide visible, including natural creases in the hide as well as marks and scars. As one uses the bag, the leather will “age,” the color will vary and the more one uses the bag the faster will acquire a “vintage look.”
Always take into consideration the quality of the leather when selecting from a collection of Italian leather handbags. If you are looking for the true qualities of the leather to shine through then you are probably looking for a bag that is made with 100% vegetable tanned leather.