MILLENIA-OLD TRADITION FOR A MODERN HOME.
“Leather tanning is one of the oldest and most sustainable practices in our world today.”
- Moore & Giles
Every design begins with materials so when Eastern Accents set out to make a collection of decorative pillows from genuine leather, we knew we had to do our homework. In the process of developing and launching our new Tudor collection we took a deep-dive in the fascinating world of leathercraft and now seems like the perfect time to share it with you.
When we think about using genuine leather for clothing, home goods or bags in the 21st century, we can’t help but feel an underlying hint of guilt. Is it worth it? Am I contributing to an industry that shouldn’t even exist? The answer is simple: We need to educate ourselves in order to make the right choices.
Humans have dried, tanned, and produced leather for thousands of years; the material has clothed, protected and supported us in all cultures and all parts of the world.
Leathercraft is one of the few industries that has maintained the use of its original techniques and materials throughout the centuries. Hides originate as a by-product of food sources, which makes the leather craft industry remarkably sustainable and natural, with materials that eliminate waste and goods that bear incredible longevity.
Just like with any industry, however, it is important to note that not all leather companies are created equal. For leather tanning to be truly sustainable and eco-friendly, the tannery has to be conscious of its environmental impact and comply with the latest government regulations.
But first, what is leather tanning?
Naturally, hides are very different in texture and feel to what we typically think of when it comes to leather products. They are stiff, hard to work with and inconsistent in texture so they have to be treated, or tanned.
This process permanently alters the protein structure of skin, making it thinner, softer, and more durable. The oldest, and the most organic way to do this is vegetable tanning: a natural process that relies on tree tannins and water to alter the hide’s texture. With the leather industry rapidly growing in the 19th century, a new synthetic method, Chromium tanning, was introduced into the trade. It involves using chromium salts to treat the hides and is now the most widely used tanning practice in the industry.
Chrome tanning is constantly evolving with new, environmentally conscious methods introduced every year. If performed correctly, chrome leather tanning is just as sustainable as its organic alternative and here’s why.
Leather in itself is a raw organic material that comes with limited longevity and inevitable wear, which ultimately leads to increased waste and water usage during production. Chromium tanning allows recycling of materials, prolonged wear and improved sanitation procedures within a tannery.
Video courtesy of Moore & Giles.
Present day chrome tanning is a creative and ever-changing process that allows leather artisans to produce modern vivid colors, smooth textures, and provide longevity and resistance to the elements.
Anyone who enjoys leather products knows that its charm lies within the natural imperfections and changes that happen over time.
In leather making this is called patina, a natural process that adds “character” and makes leather soften over time.
Leather tanning with chromium improves patina and ensures uniform texture and color throughout wear, making leather products the perfect heirlooms to be passed from generation to generation.
As a manufacturer, we feel our responsibility is not to eliminate leather goods altogether, but to support sustainable leather tanning suppliers and create quality pieces that will last a lifetime.
When it comes to raw hides, origin and care are absolutely crucial. Leading leather tanning companies, such as Moore & Giles and Fabricut, mostly use European hides, which means the hides are unbranded and contain very few scratches. The artistry of leather making begins with ethical treatment of animals, carrying on to respect for tradition and faithful eco-friendly practices.
As a manufacturer, Eastern Accents feels our responsibility is not to eliminate leather goods altogether, but to support sustainable leather tanning suppliers and create quality pieces that will last a lifetime. We are honored to have the opportunity to support this remarkable craftsmanship that spans over centuries.
This winter, Eastern Accents is proud to introduce our new Tudor collection, crafted from chrome tanned, 100% Italian leather in eight beautifully saturated colors.
Explore the full collection here.