Tanning leather is the process by which the raw hide of an animal is preserved and turned into leather.  The exact processes are a subject for another post, however these are the main differences:


 – Tanned using 100% natural materials

– Colours are mainly rich, deep earthy tones

– Excellent durability if cared for, can become an heirloom passed down through generations

– Changes over time due to organic nature, acquiring a patina

– Has the ‘Traditional Leather Smell’

– Prolonged exposure to heat can cause dryness or cracking

– Is not water resistant

– Scratches fairly easily, however shallow scratches can be polished out


– Tanned using a chemical process

– Available in a large range of colours

– The leather will not develop a patina to the same degree as vegetable tanned leather

– Softer and more supple

– Good resistance to heat and water

– The natural fibres do not show through as much as vegetable tanned leather

Here at Karaka Leather, we prefer to use Vegetable Tanned leather, but for garments and other applications we do see the advantages in chrome tanning.  Most leather on the market these days is chrome tanned – in fact it’s a fair bet that if the tanning method is not specified then it is likely to be chrome tanned.

We have put the differences in a handy image for you above.