Why You Should Buy Only “Full Grain” Vegetable Tanned Leather Goods

September 03, 2018

As you may be aware, there are multiple methods of tanning leather. However, not every method is ideal, particularly when it comes to your health and the environment.

When you plan on buying a quality leather product such as a weekender bag or wallet, it’s actually quite important to gain an understanding of the different types of leather that are available.

On the subject of quality and genuine leather, nothing compares to full grain vegetable tanned leather from Spain.


Harber London - Leather

Why it’s Important to Check for the “Full Grain...” Label on Your Leather Goods

The term “full grain vegetable tanned” refers to the layer of hide that’s been used to make a leather good. “Full Grain” refers to the outermost layer which comprises the most closely packed fibre layers. Simply put, it is the toughest kind of leather material you can find and ages timelessly.

Goods made from this type of leather will always form a natural patina over time – you’ll start to see variations in colour and subtle scars, but it will never fray. This is why leather made from 100% wool felt and full grain cow hide will always have an uneven texture because it was, in fact, sculptured over a lifetime on open, green pastures.

The “Vegetable Tanned” part in Full Grain leather refers to the cowhide which has been subjected to a tanning process that incorporates vegetable matter such as oak, in order to best preserve it. This natural tanning process has been around for several centuries, and any leather product that has indeed been made from full grain vegetable tanned leather will show signs of “breaking in” over the years. This allows the leather to stretch and relax more into a natural shape.

This process stands out from other processes since those incorporate chemical solutions to break down leather fibres, artificially making them soft to the touch. In fact, one of the worst methods to accomplish this is known as chrome leather tanning, a process where toxic chromium salts are used to break down the leather fibres so that they feel soft.


Harber London - Cable Wrap

Full Grain Vegetable Tanned Leather – Timeless Beauty and Ageing

Vegetable tanned leather ages timelessly – it naturally reacts to its surroundings as you use it, polishing up nicely and darkening in colour. 

Most people, however, have not experienced using a full grain leather product as it is not as commonly used as, say, synthetic leather or “genuine” leather goods. Majority of mass-produced leather goods use top grain – which has the outermost layers sanded off, reducing durability – or genuine/bonded leather, which is a quick and cheap way of making leather goods; one which, unfortunately, does not last very long.

At Harber London, all our premium leather goods are made from 100% wool felt and full grain vegetable tanned leather. Each product is thoughtfully hand-crafted by the finest Spanish craftsmen, offering remarkable functionality, yet minimalist design that boasts unrelenting elegance and style.

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