Our premium vegetable tanned leather


At Karu we care deeply about sustainability, both environmental, as well as social. And because we are committed to only using the very best quality materials available, we strictly use organic, full-grain vegetable tanned leather from our chosen Artisanal tannery.

This tannery is one of the remaining 5% of tanneries in the world, that strictly use vegetable tanning methods to produce their leather, and their process is certified non-toxic and organic. They exclusively source their hides from their local agricultural industry, and no animal is used just for its hide.

When leather is vegetable tanned, it means that the leather is prepared using only plant and tree extracts, opposed to the use of metal salts and toxic chemicals in chrome tanned leather.

The aesthetic of vegetable tanned leather is unparalleled and the patina that it develops with use over time cannot be produced any other way. It is also the only way to produce premium leather of desired quality while at the same time respecting our environment. The tannery has been given the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® Certificate, which guarantees that the tannery is free of heavy metals as well as any substance that could be harmful to the environment of when in contact with human skin.

But unlike chrome tanning, which can take a raw hide and tan it within half an hour by using heavy metal salts and toxic chemicals, vegetable tanning is a long, artisanal process. This process requires an immense amount of skill, and can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to complete depending on the size and thickness of the hide. Therefore it is an expensive method, that reflects in a higher price point than chromium tanned leather.


Patina is the hallmark of a high quality leather item - a patina, a soft sheen that develops on the surface of the leather, imparting a character, and personality to the product. It is like a unique stamp of ownership, - entirely different for every user, and every product.

A naturally developed patina is the ultimate goal for your leather goods - but it takes time, as all good things do. The darkening in some places, the honey glaze in others, and even the accumulation of scratches and scuffs that come with natural usage - all of them go into creating an aura of weathering that is truly beautiful to behold.

A thumb rule is - the less the leather is processed, the better and more pronounced the patina will be. Conversely, highly finished or painted leather will hardly, if ever, gather a patina.

All our leather is vegetable tanned and coloured with an aniline dye (a dye that leaves the natural look and grain of leather in tact) which is one the best candidates to develop a nice patina, pull-up leather is the next in patina hierarchy, while finished, chrome-dyed leather will never develop one.

Leather connoisseurs value patina to an extent that some leather producers, makers of leather products, and the owners go to great lengths to develop it artificially!


Yes, the scratches and scrapes that gather on the surface are also an integral part of the patina. Whilst you maintain and condition your leather item, these marks will fade out slightly, and become part of the overall patina that the material accumulates.

However, you may be the type that likes to retain the new, store-bought look on your leather accessories for as long as possible. In that case, you may want to select leather products with more artificial surface finishing, or coated leathers.

Up next...

In our next blog posts you will learn the difference between a truly hand-made and hand-stitched leather product, and one that has been made using a sewing machine.

But for now, have a great day!


The Karu team. 


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