The Vachetta Leather Story
When I discovered vachetta leather in the late 1970s, it was love at first sight. I was immediately enamored with the depth of color, genuine aroma, and soft touch. I knew I was looking at something special, but it was only after I learned how vachetta was tanned that I realized how truly unique it is.
Unlike most leathers today, vachetta is tanned by Tuscan artisans using natural processes dating back to ancient Rome, when the hides were prized for making belts and sandals (arguably among the best accessories of yore).
Just as they did then, the skins today acquire their unique qualities from natural dyes and a tanning process that respects the environment as much as the hides. The skins are placed in large wooden barrels where they steep for days in a nontoxic brew of animal fats, rind from the chestnut tree, and mimosa extracts. They're then hung from the ceiling to dry naturally.
When the time comes to use them, each hide is polished with an amber stone by a skilled craftsman who works to preserve the small imperfections and wrinkles that give this leather its unique personality.
It is only through this age-old process that the true character of the leather is revealed.
Vachetta's uniqueness comes from a true vegetable dying process, the result of which is leather that differs in tone, texture, and aroma from leathers produced using modern processes.
Generally speaking there are three types of leathers used in most products today, all of which involve a toxic tanning process:
Aniline Leather: In this process chemicals are used instead of vegetable dyes to color the hides. The chemicals are harsh, but long lasting, and absorb into the hide to create an array of attractive colors. This process is used in many higher-end leather goods as it offers significant savings in time and labor compared to the natural process used in tanning Vachetta leather.
Semi Aniline Leather: This process is similar to aniline dying, but requires less dye and takes less time, resulting in inconsistencies that must be corrected using a chemical/paint rub to obtain a more uniform color. Favored by mid-market brands, semi aniline leather is used to save time and money in the manufacturing process.
Corrected Leather: After processing, the skins are covered with a dye or paint-like substance that sits on the top of the hide. This is a very fast process time and results in leather that is consistent in color and shade and is used in many popular priced products. please note that while this is technically a leather product it will not "wear in" or age like one may expect it to.