When it comes to leather, and leather workers, there appears to be a lot of myths out there. Who better to wade through some of those myths than the folks at Beargrass Leather?
Myth 1: Leather Can't Get Wet
This is the myth that I most commonly hear. This myth is mostly false. Almost all leather starts out wet. The tanning process locks in the preservatives that make the leather last for decades. This includes one or all of the following: tannin, oil, and wax. There are as many differing theories on how to treat leather, and they stem from the same confusion as the "wet" myth. In essence, if your leather gets wet, let it air-dry and then treat it with a trustworthy conditioner that matches your type of leather.
Myth 2: All Leather is Created Equal
Leather companies have been playing word games for years. Some common terms are full-grain, top-grain, authentic leather, split, finished split, and bonded. In essence, unless it is full-grain, you aren't getting the best possible leather. For suede, this is slightly different, since there cannot be a full-grain suede in a high quality. But, that's a different post.
Myth 3: Leather Workers Tan Their Own Hides
This would be something similar to a dress maker weaving their own fabric. Most leather comes pre-finished at a tannery. At this point, leather workers rely on the tannery to provide consistent stock of both veg-tanned and chrome-tanned leathers.
Myth 4: The Tannery is Not Important
The tannery is incredibly important. Leather, as a product, can be a tricky proposition. It uses a natural product derived from animals and has a history of pollution (as well as green sustainability). This confusion stems from the production of leather. Top-notch, credible tanneries make all of the difference -- even when it comes to the most natural, vegetable-tanned leathers. A good tannery like Horween, Wicket and Craig, and S. B. Foot can produce safe, top-of-the-line leathers in America.
Myth 5: Vegan or Synthetic Leather is Ethically More Desirable
Not necessarily! While it may skip the animal product (which mostly uses the "waste" from the food industry), the chemicals used in the process may be just as bad for the environment and user as chrome-tanned leathers. The most ethical use of leather may be, in my opinion, buying better constructed, longer lasting, timeless leather goods. This, in turn, means reducing the amount of leather goods needed over the course of one's life. It would fit under the "reduce" part of the reduce, reuse, recycle philosophy.
These are just some of the myths regarding leather. Plenty more pop up. As they do, we will try our best to shed some light.