Masterpiece Master class - Veg Tan Leather

  • By Kirsti Nagel

Masterpiece Master class - Veg Tan Leather

Put your hand up if you really know what we’re saying when we tell you we use Vegetable Tan leather to make our masterpieces.

There might only be a handful with their hand up in this imaginary classroom – don’t be embarrassed! Masterpiece Master class is now in session!

The main structural protein that makes up animal skin is collagen, and because it’s a natural substance, it is prone to decompose or eventually begin to rot.

Now, although there are extreme trends making the rounds, this wouldn’t be considered a fashionable one when it comes to leather accessories or trimmings on a backpack!


In order to prevent decomposing, we tan our leather (put your hand down – I’m explaining).

Tannins, which are yellow/brown organic substances found in barks and some other plant tissues, have broken-down gallic acid and antioxidant capabilities and are, therefore, used to preserve the collagen in the hides used- this is called tanning!



Vegetable Tanning is an extremely time consuming process and requires skilled individuals to be fully successful!

The hides are placed in huge ‘baths’ filled with tannins over a period of time – sometimes up to three or four months in order for the tannins to fully take to the skin!

Once the leather has had a nice, long bath, it is piled and left for several days to allow the tan to set.


Although we live in a very fast-paced world and we desire instant gratification, Veg Tan is seen as a more traditional approach to treating leather – which, to some, may feel more authentic as it is not a rushed process.

The use of natural substances also allows the leather to keep a more organic or ‘earthy’ smell, as well as being soft and pleasant to use.



Veg Tan leather does not decompose, but it does develop character over time with use and age- a Patina.

Just like breaking in a brand new pair of shoes takes time and wearing-in, the Patina takes time and use before you might see a difference!

The character that develops can be seen in change of shade of the leather, which doesn’t only come from use, but also exposure to different environmental elements! The sun, rain or even the moisture in the air can cause colour change to your masterpiece as the leather absorbs it! Even natural oils from your skin are absorbed by the leather and contribute to it’s character-building!


As you know, RU has a Ten year quality guarantee. That is a long term relationship you are entering in to, and, to some, this might be a sensitive topic!

But, if you look at it the right way, the character of your masterpiece will constantly be developing and changing – which means you will never get bored – even in a long term relationship!


Here’s to keeping the character alive with Veg Tan – Class dismissed!

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