Vegetable tanning

Tradition, innovation, naturalness, and beauty

Vegetable tanning is a traditional craft process that tanneries have handed down from father to son for over 200 years, using both ancient recipes and state-of-the-art technology. With vegetable tanned products, you can really see the skill that has gone into producing them.

The transformation from raw hides into a material that will last a long time is a process that happens slowly in wooden drums while respecting the environment. It is an astonishing process based on the use of natural tannins, on modern technologies and machinery but mainly, on the slow passage of time.

Among the various tanning methods, the vegetable tanning is the most classical, the most traditional, the most recognizable, the only one able to give leather unique characteristics, the most natural and the most environmental-friendly. It is able to join comfort and look, fashion and tradition, uniqueness and versatility in the product.

High-quality vegetable tanning is disappearing in Europe, with an exception of Italy, where Consortium is the world-beaters of the tradition, handcraft, and innovation in fashion:

  • Genuine Italian Vegetable-Tanned Leather Consortium promotes the concept of natural vegetable tanning and to keep the Italian vegetable tanning tradition alive.
  • Consortium Vero Cuoio is the worldwide ambassador of the brand “Cuoio di Toscana”, with the aim of protecting and exploiting the quality of the leather sole. Truly the heart of the shoes we love.

Giovanna Gentile Ferragamo, Vice President of the Group Holding Company Ferragamo Finanziaria S.p.A, in a video interview during Milan Fashion Week 2014 says to Cuoio di Toscana Consortium that: “Tuscany has always been a fertile place for all that concerns craftsmanship, manual skills and the passion for vegetable tanned leather. The innovation is now essential to growing in a global market place but it must always take account of the tradition that guarantees the quality of the product. In the case of Cuoio di Toscana the innovation is combined with treatments based on vegetable tannins that respect the tradition".

Vegetable extracts

Raw materials used for vegetable tanning are natural tannins, available in liquid or powder form, obtained from a different part of plants including woods, barks, fruits, fruit pods, and leaves. The most common tannins are obtained from:

  • Chestnut wood (Castanea sativa)
  • Quebracho wood (Schinopsis lorentzii)
  • Tara pods (Caesalpinia spinosa)
  • Catechu (Acacia Catechu)
  • Chinese gallnut (Rhustyphina semialata)
  • Turkish gallnut (Quercus infectoria)
  • Gambier (Uncaria gambir)
  • Myrobalan (Terminalia chebula)
  • Oak wood (Quercus sp)
  • Sumac (Rhustyphina coriaria)
  • Valonia Oak (Quercus macrolepis)

Advantages of vegetable tanning

  • Vegetable tanning is environmentally friendly; meaning any leather products that have been vegetable tanned can be recycled
  • Vegetable tanning is an age old tradition, so most tanneries have very skilled craftsmen producing and dyeing the leather
  • Due to the natural tannins used, vegetable tanned products are unique and have their own life, they are not the same for their entire life, but they change, continuously, for the better
  • The colors that vegetable tanning produces are rich and warm tones that look completely natural
  • Vegetable tanned leathers are more valuable and thus sold at a higher average price compared to chrome tanned leathers

Disadvantages of vegetable tanning

  • The average process time of vegetable tanning is quite similar to chrome tanned leather but it can take up to 60 days to produce sole leather
  • It can stain easily in the presence of iron
  • Products that have been vegetable tanned are more expensive. They require much more skill to tan the hides, this means they are of better quality
  • The colors you can produce from vegetable tanning are limited
  • Direct heat can cause vegetable tanned products to shrink or crack