What Is Vegetable-Tanned Leather?

Leather is a timeless material that has been used for centuries to create everything from shoes to handbags. However, not all leather is created equal, and one type that has been gaining popularity in recent years is vegetable-tanned leather. In this blog, we'll explore what vegetable-tanned leather is, how it differs from non-vegetable-tanned leather, the benefits of using it, and how you can tell the difference. 

What is Vegetable-Tanned Leather?

Vegetable-tanned leather is a type of leather that is tanned using natural materials such as tree bark, leaves, and fruit instead of chemicals like chromium. The tanning process can take several weeks and involves soaking the hides in a series of solutions made from natural materials. This process creates a leather that is more environmentally friendly and sustainable than non-vegetable tanned leather.



Vegetable-tanned leather has a rich and ancient history that dates back thousands of years; its origins can be traced to ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. Vegetable-tanned leather became synonymous with quality craftsmanship and was widely used for various purposes, including clothing, footwear, and armour. Throughout the centuries, this traditional tanning method has endured, evolving alongside the demands of different cultures and artisans. Today, vegetable-tanned leather remains a sought-after material appreciated for its enduring connection to ancient traditions.

Differences Between Vegetable and Non-Vegetable Tanned Leather

The main difference between the two types of leather is the tanning process used. Non-vegetable tanned leather is tanned using chemicals like chromium, which is a faster and more cost-effective process. However, these chemicals can be harmful to the environment and can cause health problems for workers who handle them.

On the other hand, vegetable-tanned leather, which uses traditional methods, is tanned using only natural materials. It also creates a leather that is more durable and ages better than non-vegetable tanned leather. This is because the natural tanning process allows the leather to develop a unique patina over time which gives it character and depth.

Another benefit of vegetable-tanned leather is that it is hypoallergenic as it does not contain any harmful chemicals that can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. This makes it a great choice for people with sensitive skin.

How to Tell the Difference

One way to tell the difference between vegetable-tanned leather and non-vegetable-tanned leather is by the colour. Vegetable-tanned leather tends to be lighter in colour than non-vegetable-tanned leather.

Another way to tell the difference is by the smell. Vegetable-tanned leather has a natural, earthy smell, while non-vegetable-tanned leather may have a chemical or synthetic smell.



In summary, vegetable-tanned leather is a sustainable, environmentally friendly, and durable option that has several benefits over non-vegetable-tanned leather. The natural tanning process creates a leather that ages beautifully and develops a unique patina over time. If you're looking for a high-quality, sustainable leather product, you should consider vegetable-tanned leather.