All of our leather is full grain and sourced from our partner tannery in Tuscany, Italy. A vegetable tanning process is used to create the different shades, which takes advantage of the tannic acids naturally found in barks, branches and leaves. It takes skilled tanners around two months to finish the leather using this technique which leaves a beautiful, natural colour and finish compared to the often synthetic appearance of common chrome tanned leathers. By using vegetable tanned leather we are minimising our impact on the environment, which is good. Every hide is also a by product of the meat industry.
The leather backs are sealed with a special paste to protect the flesh but maintain the raw look and feel.
Whenever we get a new hide in the first thing we do is test the quality. First a visual inspection is done to check for markings and a subtly imperfect pore structure where the hair used to be. Next the leather smell is a classic test for quality. The smell should be rich and natural, like when you walk into an Italian shoe shop. If you get a hint of a chemical smell then the leather has probably been chrome tanned or is a synthetic material.
Next we'll work the leather by rolling a small sample on itself in all directions, being quite aggressive to recreate the way a cow stretches and bends its skin. The surface should pick up permanent creases but not crack.
The third test we do is to burn an edge of the leather. High quality leather will burn but should be relatively difficult to set alight. It should deform slightly but not retract and warp like burning plastic. A coloured flame usually indicates traces of chemicals.
The smell after extinguishing the flame is the main giveaway. High quality vegetable tanned leather will smell like a good steak cooking where as chemically tanned and synthetic leather will give your nose a bit of a shock.
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