About Methods of Tanning
Transforming Hide into Leather
Raw hide left untreated quickly decays or turns stiff. Tanning is the process of treating the hide and transforming it into that flexible, rich and durable material known as leather. There are two major approaches to tanning. One is called Chrome Tanning and the other is called Vegetable Tanning.
At Itagaki, we have used Vegetable Tanned Leather exclusively for our products since we first established.
Methods of Tanning
"Slowly growing leather"
Vegetable Tanning is an ancient method that uses "tannin", an astringent extracted from the bark of plants such as the mimosa and the chestnut. The tannin treatment process is slow and typically lasts for about two months. Leather tanned by this method demonstrates less shrinkage, is typically more robust and deepens in color with age.
"Pit Tanning", Itagaki's method of choice, is the more traditional approach in which the hide is moved through a series of tannin baths of increasing concetration allowing for the tan to gradually penetrate the hide.
This method is labor-intensive, time consuming and requires a vast tanning site and so is rarely used by manufacturers today. However, this approach is also the most natural, allowing the tan to penetrate deeply and evenly resulting in a durable material and a rich finish.
"Leather that changes with the user"
Tanned leather products not only gain in color and luster, but also change in shape to suit the user. For example, a wallet that is used every day will have rounded corners, and the parts that are frequently touched will absorb oil and moisture, giving it a soft and fluffy appearance. The back pocket of a bag may feel tight at first, but as you put things in it and keep it in close contact with your body, the leather will change due to the weight of the items and your body heat. A backpack is a very good example of this.
Leather is a very flexible material that can adapt to its owner depending on what it is used for and how it is used. It is said that its robustness makes it difficult for craftsmen to make bags, but the expression and feel of leather that has been used and nurtured is a great attraction that cannot be experienced anywhere else.