The Definitive Guide: What is Vegetable Tanned Leather?

The Definitive Guide: What is Vegetable Tanned Leather?

Vegetable-tanned leather is a type of high-quality leather made from animal hides using natural tannins from tree bark, leaves, and fruit pods. This eco-friendly tanning process, which has been practiced for thousands of years, results in durable and beautiful leather goods. Unlike other tanning methods that use harmful chemicals, vegetable tanning is sustainable and produces leather that can last a lifetime.

The tanning of leather is a multi step process. As, the tree extracts like bark, leaves, and other fruit pods tan the leather. Similarly, animal hides that alter their protein structure are separated. Then dyeing, shaving, and drying are followed. Around 10% of animal hides are converted into vegetable-tanned leather. Below we will discuss the difference between real leather and vegetable-tanned leather. The answer to why is vegetable-tanned leather so expensive will be answered too.

Real Leather Vs Tanned Leather

Real leather is the conversion of animal hide into leather through various methods like chromium tanning and the use of formaldehyde. They might give an even and smooth finish for a while but they are carcinogenic and harmful to the environment in equal terms. Chromium salt scent is pungent and chemical odours are irresistible in chromium-tanned leather.

Whereas vegetable-tanned leather uses natural tannins like oak, bark, and other leaves. The leather tan neither fades nor tears. It ensures a lifetime of use without causing toxicity to the wearer or environment. The natural materials used in its creation are biodegradable. The rich patina and beautiful ageing of vegetable tanned leather allow it to be cherished worldwide. This is the reason why vegetable-tanned leather is so expensive.

Why Is Vegetable-Tanned Leather So Expensive?

Vegetable-tanned leather is expensive because it requires an extensively careful production. It requires immense attention and a lot of care during its manufacture

1. Longevity And Customization

The longevity of vegetable-tanned leather is remarkable, as it can withstand the test of time. The proper use, storage, and gentle care allow this leather to last longer. Years and years of durability make leather expensive. So, it is no surprise that it is used to manufacture luxurious items. The motifs, patterns and other customizations are easily curated on this leather. This allows and ensures the wider value of leather.

2. Graceful Ageing And Smooth Texture

The desirability and smoothness of vegetable tanned leather increases with time. The slightly golden tan with hints of caramel brown looks mesmerising. The attractive and unique suppleness is loved by leather enthusiasts. Leather Patina developing after months of use and the richness of leather enhancing is an important factor contributing to its expensiveness.

3. Non Toxic

One of the reasons for premium vegetable tanned leather pricing is because of its biodegradability. The non-toxic material, odour, and stuffing of leather allow it to be the first choice for eco-friendly and non-harmful aesthetic leather enthusiasts.

How Long Do Vegetable-Tanned Last?

Vegetable tanned leather is stiff, but like in a good way. It is well-known for its durability, sustainability, and reliability. The beautiful ageing allows it to become smooth and supple with a non-fading texture. The deep dark caramel brown shade after months of use soothes the eye. It absorbs the environment as well as damages from elements. No wearing or tearing occurs.

High-quality Material And Natural Tannins

One of the answers to why vegetable-tanned leather is expensive is its high quality. The top-notch animal hides are selected after liming. This ensures the durability to last for around 20-30 years. Surely high-quality leather is selected during every tanning procedure. However, the use of natural tannins during vegetable tanning plays a significant role. It allows the leather to have enhanced durability. The bags, belts, and shoes manufactured from this leather last for generations and generations.

Skilled Craftsmanship And Ageing

The precise and intricate motifs on vegetable-tanned leather differ from those of ordinary work with no detailing. This creates a sense of resilience for leather allowing it to be the top choice. The rich patina of leather grows fine with time. The unfinished wax and fat structure age gracefully and allow the leather to become more supple and smooth with a non-fading texture and tone.

Tips To Extend The Lifespan Of Vegetable-tanned Leather

There are many ways you can expand the lifespan of vegetable tanned leather. Below, we share some tips to maximise the lifespan.

Scheduled Cleaning And Conditioning

The most important thing while cleaning vegetable tanned leather is keeping in mind the schedule. You don't have to deep wash your leather every time it has a stain. You can simply remove it with the help of a microfiber cloth. Also, you should wash your leather once a month. Besides, conditioning of leather involves damping the microfiber cloth and washing it with the help of a leather cleaner. This will keep your vegetable-tanned leather goods smooth, supple, and rich in tone.

Less-Exposure To Sunlight

Exposure to extreme conditions tempers with the lifespan of leather. Frequent sunlight exposure might allow your leather to show signs of wear and tear. So avoid ruining its integrity by keeping it in an unstable environment. It also prevents drying. The leather sustains its natural charm with an extended lifespan. If you gentlly use tanned leather with no harsh chemicals and mild wash the leather, it can last for decades.


The use of vegetable tanned leather dates back to thousands of years. High-quality animal hides are separated, salted, and limed. Once the rotting risk is over, the animal hides are dyed, dried, and treated. This process is called tanning.

Vegetable tanning is expensive because it requires extensive periods, high pricing, and adequate care. The final result is given in the form of leather that lasts for decades and ages gracefully with enough suppleness, smoothness, and patina!

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