All of the standard leathers I use are among the finest examples of vegetable tanned leather on the market and any of them will make an excellent choice for made-to-order items.
Read on to learn more about the characteristics of each.
☛ For more general information about leather, please check out this blog post.
This is a beautifully dyed semi-aniline goatskin from century-old French tannery, Relma. Goatskin is softer, more resistant to water and scratches, and somewhat tougher than cowhide. The leather is supple with a luxurious texture and firm grain. It makes an excellent choice for wallet exteriors.
Pueblo is a vegetable tanned leather produced by Badalassi Carlo in Italy that’s characterized by its rough finish, which gives it a really interesting and vintage look. It is medium-soft without a protective finish, so it feels fantastic and will develop a lot of character with use.
Dakota & Buttero
Dakota and Buttero are the two smooth matte leathers I use. Both are full grain vegetable tanned leathers from Italy and are among the highest regarded of their kind. Dakota is produced by Conceria La Perla Azzurra and Buttero is from Conceria Walpier. They are firmer and denser than the other leathers (except shell cordovan). These make an excellent choice for wallet interiors. Being vegetable tanned without a heavy finish, you’ll also see a pleasant patina develop, albeit less rapidly than ‘Pueblo’.
I stock shell cordovan from Shinki-Hikaku and Leder Ogawa, both based in Japan. I find Japanese cordovan to be clearly the most refined and beautiful there is, and especially suitable for small leather goods.
Shinki is the tanner for both companies’ shells, which is one of the few remaining tanneries that perform traditional pit-tanning.
Their shells are aniline dyed and glazed, which is a process of using glass rollers to achieve a glossy finish.
Leder Ogawa is an aniline dyeing specialist that dyes the shells by hand. The results are exceptionally beautiful, with unparalleled depth of color.
Shell wears extremely well over time and develops a lot of character with use. For a smooth vegetable tanned leather, there isn’t a better choice.
Note: Ogawa shells are slightly more susceptible to staining from contact with water. If this is a concern, please choose Shinki shell instead. Also, note that shell from any tannery scratches fairly easily. Scratches will become less apparent and blend into the character of the leather as it ages. Since shell has a waxy surface, it may be reconditioned (i.e. scratches, etc. buffed out) if desired.
Wax is also produced by Badalassi Carlo (maker of Pueblo). This is a pull-up leather and the most attractive one I’ve come across. The finish gives the leather a striking web of color variation. Pull-up leather changes color when pressure is applied, or the leather is folded or stretched. This is a vegetable tanned leather that will develop lots of character with use.
By popular request, Saffiano is now available as a main option. This is the only main leather that isn’t fully vegetable tanned, which means it will have better resistance to water and scratching. It’s the most resistant leather in the lineup, but also the least natural feeling.
Saffiano refers to the print, not the material. I currently stock Saffiano printed on goatskin produced by famed French tannery, Alran SAS, as well as calfskin from Italian tannery, Conceria Superior. If you prefer little to no patina, this is a great choice.
I believe the above leathers provide an excellent variety, but as there are many, many excellent leathers on the market, I quite commonly use others, as well.
Below are some that I generally also have stock. If you’d like an item made with any of these leathers or another leather seen on social media, please send me a message on Instagram, Reddit or email me.
Rugato is beautiful glossy veg tan from Tannerie Masure in Belgium. The dark green and purple are especially striking.
This is a somewhat lesser known finish from Tuscan tannery, La Bretagna. It’s a milled veg tan with a glossy finish. Wonderful texture and feel and perfect for wallet exteriors.