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Leather is a beautiful, natural material that just about everyone has appreciated at some point in time. However, some people may not realise the variety of tannages and treatments that leather is available in, never mind the myriad of colours, textures, and tempers that we see on a daily basis.

æther + vertu uses full grain cow hide for all of its products, unless otherwise noted. These hides are all ethically sourced from reputable tanneries, where raw materials are by-products of other cattle industries. It is important to note that every hide is different; scars, brands, fat creases and grain lines, as well as slight variations in colour are all possible inclusions. We do not view these as flaws but rather as unique characteristics. Something to set each piece apart from others.

Below is a quick reference to some of the leathers that we use. There is no dearth of in depth information on all of these processes available all over the internet if you are interested in learning more.


Vegetable Tanned Leather (veg tan)

One of the oldest methods of leather tannage, with processes relatively unchanged for over 5000 years. Vegetable tanning uses the tannins of vegetable matter (mainly tree bark) and is considered eco-friendly. This method is much slower than modern mineral tanning methods, easily taking weeks or months to complete. Undyed or 'natural' veg tan leather has a pale, sometimes almost pink hue that will darken over time with exposure to sun and oils. Vegetable tanned leather is renowned for the rich and deep patina that it will develop over time. Currently, vegetable tanned hides make up only about 10% of global leather production.

Harness Leather

Harness leather is a vegetable tanned leather that has been stuffed with oils and tallows. As the name implies, this leather was originally used for harnesses and straps and is therefore designed with strength in mind. Harness leather is often 'jack glazed', giving the surface a natural semi-gloss finish. Our harness leather is sourced from Wickett & Craig.

Bridle Leather

Similar to harness leather, bridle leather is created by impregnating vegetable tanned leather with oils and waxes, making it able to withstand moisture better than plain vegetable tanned leather. This variety of leather is commonly used in equestrian and outdoor environments. Our bridle leather is also sourced from Wickett & Craig.

Chrome Tanned Leather

The majority of global leather production is now achieved through chrome tanning, making up about 80% of all output. This leather is produced by saturating the hides in a chromium salt, and can be accomplished in as little as a day. Chrome tanning results in a strong, supple leather, but does not patina as readily as vegetable tanned leathers. Almost all shoe and garment leather is chrome tanned, as well as a large percentage of upholstery leather.

Chromexcel (CXL)

Developed by, and proprietary to the Horween Tannery in Chicago, Chromexcel leather is a combination tan that incorporates both veg tan and chrome tanning processes, as well as hot stuffing with oils and waxes. CXL leathers posses rich colour and depth, are buttery soft, and exhibit remarkable 'pull-up'. Pull-up is the contrasting colouring that appears when the material is flexed and handled, pushing oils away and lightening the leather. Once the oils make their way back, through time or with some buffing, the original colour returns as well.

Oil Tanned Leather

Another centuries old method of tanning leather, oil tanning primarily uses fish oils to create soft, pliable leathers. Due to their tanning process, oil tanned leathers are naturally very water resistant. For this reason you will sometimes see them referred to as boot leather, since many high quality boots are made with oil tanned leathers for longevity. Many of our oil tanned hides come from the S.B. Foot tannery, which is known for supplying Red Wing Boots.