Leather has been used for centuries to make shoes, bags, furniture and other luxury products. Many Cooper & Quint products also use leather. Whether for the finishing of a toy or for a collar or leash, all Cooper & Quint products use organic tanned leather.
We work together with tanneries in Tuscany, Italy.
What is Organic Tanned Leather?
In order to make a nice end product from cowhide, it is important that it is processed. This process of processing is called tanning. In terms of tanning, two ways are most common. Chrome tanning and organic (or vegetable) tanning.
Of the various methods, vegetable tanning is still the most traditional, the most recognizable, the only one that can give leather unique properties. It is able to combine comfort and appearance, fashion and tradition, uniqueness and versatility of the product.
The vegetable tanning process is based on the use of tannin, the active ingredient responsible for transforming the animal skin into a compact and resistant material that is durable over the years. This natural substance can be found in many different trees and vegetables, in variable concentration. These natural tannin extracts make the vegetable tanned leather unique and easy to distinguish.
How is organically tanned leather made?
The process begins when the animal is slaughtered in a slaughterhouse. The meat is removed for processing and the skins are quickly salted. With organic tanned leather, no animals are slaughtered for their skin. Only skins left over from animals used for meat consumption are used. If you don't keep the skin salty and moist it will start to rot and once it starts to rot it will no longer be usable. Rotting destroys the grain, perhaps the most important part of leather.
On arrival at the tannery, the skin is cut and placed in a drum where it is purified from hair and other impurities. After this it is further cleaned and prepared to be colored in a natural way.
The skins are colored on the basis of tannin, extracts from plants, trees or even some fruit. Vegetable tanning is a tanning process that is inspired by nature and - in complete harmony - by nature going back.
Vegetable tanned leather contains no toxic substances that are harmful to humans and is very tolerant of people who suffer from metal-related allergies. The production cycle of vegetable tanned leather is strictly controlled to ensure a low impact on the environment and lasts on average one to three months.
Curious what the process is like? Then watch this video.
Benefits of organically tanned leather
- No animal is killed for its skin. On the contrary, the raw hides used by our tanneries are the discarded by-products of the food industry that produce meat for human consumption.
- Because vegetable-tanned leather is tanned with natural tannins, its chemical-biological properties make it easy to discard at the end of its life.
- Our tanneries have invested heavily in treatment systems and waste recycling, which means they work with respect for people and the environment.
- Many of the fabrics used during the tanning process are recovered, recycled and reused in various areas. Hair removed from raw skins is converted into agricultural manure; sludge produced by the treatment plants is reused in the construction sector to make bricks.
- Vegetable tanned leather, recognizable by its trademark, contains no toxic substances such as azo dyes, nickel, PCP or chrome VI
What is the difference between organically tanned leather and chrome tanned leather?
The main difference between organically tanned leather and chrome tanned leather is whether or not to use harmful chemicals.
Organic tanned leather uses tannic acids from various plants, such as branches, leaves, bark or fruit. The tanning process takes about one to three months. Due to the softer process, the lifespan of organically tanned leather is on average higher than that of chrome-tanned leather.
Chromium-based tanning is also known as chemical cow leather (80-90% of cow leather is chrome-tanned). The skins have a shelf life due to the action of synthetic preservatives such as chromium sulphate, aluminum and caustic soda. These substances are poisonous and carcinogenic and as a result the leather is no longer biodegradable and as good as dead.
Another big difference between biologically tanned leather and chrome-tanned leather is the life you can still find in the end product. Organic tanned leather absorbs the traces of our life. The natural aging does not affect the resistance. The colors of tannins give the leather an unmistakably warm and brilliant hue that intensifies with time and daily use.