Natural Vegetable Tanned Leather
All the leather we use in our products—from watch bands to desk pads—is natural and vegetable-tanned. Read on to learn what that means and why we use it.
What is Leather Tanning?
Natural leather starts as an animal hide, with its own character and imperfections. It’s largely made of proteins and water. Left untreated, it would turn brittle and decay because of the water content. To prevent this from happening, leather is tanned by replacing the water molecules found in the animal skin with either a natural or synthetic chemical that binds to the proteins in the hide and stabilizes them. The resulting leather doesn’t decay, and is supple, durable, and strong.

"The look and feel of vegetable-tanned leather is hard to beat."

KEN TOMITA
Co-Founder
Made the Hard Way
There are two common methods of leather-tanning: chrome and vegetable-tanning.

Vegetable-tanning is the original historic method for preserving a hide. It is an organic process, using tannins derived from the bark of trees as the chemical that displaces the water in the hide. This process is labor intensive and requires skilled craftspeople, which also means it costs a lot more. The leather we use undergoes a 6-week tanning process before it’s ready for manufacturing.

Vegetable-tanning preserves the natural beauty and imperfections of the leather, while allowing it to age and patina over time.

In the mid 19th century, an alternative method for mass producing leather was developed, where chromium metal is used instead of tannins to replace the water. It’s much faster and cheaper, and it requires less skill to create. The process can be automated and completed in less than one day. The resulting leather, though good in some applications, doesn’t age as well, and much of the natural character of the hide is lost. Most leather that you commonly interact with is chrome tanned—from car seats to gloves. We choose vegetable-tanned leather because it preserves the quality of the natural animal skin while allowing it to develop a unique character over time.
The Large Desk Pad in Tan Leather supporting the Maple Laptop Stand for MacBook.
Vegetable-tanned leather has the level of character and premium quality we look for in our products. It ages uniquely as you use it, and when properly cared for, can last for generations.

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