What's Full Grain Vegetable Tanned Leather?

Posted by Content Producer, Black Lion Leather on 3rd Jun 2019

What's Full Grain Vegetable Tanned Leather?

An answer to frequent customer questions, we are pleased to share the following information about the what and why of leather choices.

First, let’s look at what types of leather are offered in the global market. Ninety-percent of leather is processed using Chrome tanning, which is fast (takes about a day) and uses synthetic chemicals. The other ten-percent 10% of the market is by way of Vegetable tanning, which can take up to 6 weeks and uses organic plant and tree materials.

In reference to leather grain, Full-grain leather has all its layers intact, which makes it extremely strong, more dense and longer lasting. In contrast, Top-grain leather (used in most luxury brand purses and bags) has its top layer sanded smooth, for a more uniform look and printed with a pattern or texture. Suede leather is split off from full-grain or top grain, leaving the bottom only.

The marketing term “genuine leather” means that the product is partially leather but also contains glues, paints, and plastics combined with the split leather material in order to look like top grain luxury brand leathers.

Black Lion Leather chose Full-grain Vegetable tanned leather for three reasons:

  1. The Full-grain vegetable tanning process is a modern update from African cultural technologies dating back to ancient Kemet (currently called ancient Egypt), where they used vegetable based dyes from trees and plants, along with hair intact animal hides. Our West African textile makers also use vegetable based dyes for Adinkra patterning and stamps. This is part of Black Lion Leather’s commitment to infuse all materials with cultural meaning.
  2. The leather produced from this process is incredibly strong, long lasting, and looks better as it ages. This is why certain leather artifacts like Zulu shields, clothing and sachets remain intact after hundreds of years.
  3. The craftsmanship required to create functional products from leather preserves our tradition of African artisan skills which serve community needs.

As always, our mission is to expose the Black traveler to fine leather materials, unique in nature, and of the highest quality, and then connect them to their African culture for modern day use.

Carry Your Culture ™