Widely known to be superior in quality, Italian Leather is produced following the old-school traditional methods and requires the expertise of highly skilled craftsmen and dedicated tanneries. Durable and long-lasting, they are able to withstand everyday wear and tear. At The House of Straps, we use Italian Full Grain Vegetable Tanned Cow Leather.
Full Grain Leather
The most resistant and the strongest form, this robust leather has not been buffed or sanded to eliminate scars and marks. This is unlike the softer top grain leather which has its surface sanded to remove imperfections off possible substandard leather.
Vegetable Tanned Leather
Using traditional tanning methods, the raw hides undergo treatments and are immersed in soluble tannins in large wooden drums. This is a time and labour intensive method of tanning the hides as they are soaked for months using only natural ingredients such as plant extracts. As every hide is different, every batch of hides that goes into the drum have their variances, requiring the supervision and skills of the craftsmen to put in the appropriate amounts of various treatments and solutions accordingly each time.
With vegetable tanning, the leather will have deep earthy colours in warm and rich tones. There is also a distinctively sweet fragrance, a characteristic of vegetable tanned leather. One unique aspect of vegetable tanned leather is that the leather colour darkens as it is exposed to heat, light and oils with use, this is also termed as patina, the ageing of leather. With use, the leather gets broken into as it becomes softer and more pliable without affect the structural integrity. Being porous, there is no synthetic top coat on the leather, while shallow scratches can be buffed out, water splashes or stains tends to become marks over time. This makes them a widely favoured choice for leather goods as the user receives a piece like no other and it becomes a part of them where every mark is a memory.
The absence of chemicals makes it suitable for people with chromium allergies. Chromium salts are used in the process of chrome (mineral) tanning which utilizes a mixture of acids, chemicals and salts. Despite it being a much quicker process and cheaper alternative to the artisanal vegetable tanning, it does not have the desirable properties of the vegetable tanned leather. As the quality of the hides tend to be lower, the leather has a shorten life span and tends to crack. There is no colour change and often comes with a chemical smell.
The raw hides used for vegetable tanned leather are discarded by-products of the food industry for human consumption, hence no animal is killed for its skin. As it is made from natural organic material, it is bio-degradable when it ceases to be used.
Although it uses more water and tanning agents in the tanning process, investments have been made in depuration systems and waste recycling, many substances are recovered, recycled and reused in different fields. This is in contrast to chrome tanning which is harmful to the environment and the people that work with it due to the harsh chemical treatments. The dumping of toxic solid and liquid waste with chromium and other hazardous compounds have a huge negative environmental impact as it affects the ecological functioning of water bodies and ultimately, humans.
Our leather hides comes from reputable Italian tanneries that are a part of The Genuine Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium. The Consortium upholds the excellence of the leather and guarantees the quality and origin of leather produced by its member tanneries.