Do You Want To Know Why Italian Leather Is Still The Best? | Cuero Design
Italian Tannery, Vegetable Tanned Leather, Barrel

Do You Want To Know Why Italian Leather Is Still The Best?

Read this before you buy something made of leather

A well-dressed man opens the door and welcomes you to the leather bag shop. You see several beautiful designs. It doesn’t take long before a woman in a black dress comes up to you and offers her service. You ask her about a specific item that you are interested in. The woman explains that this particular bag is extra good because it is made of Italian leather. Ah yes, Italian leather. Of course you will buy it. You have always known that it is the best. It is most definitely worth an extra premium price. Isn’t it?

If you want unique leather you have to search the world

In order to produce the seats to our butterfly chairs, we need very strong leather. Not only must the leather be able to hold the weight of a person; it must also keep doing so for many years.

To find this special leather, we have literally searched the world. We have seen everything from mass production tanneries to the fine vegetable tanneries in Argentina and in Tuscany, Italy.

Keep reading to know the results.

Why Good Leather Is Worth Every Penny

Italian Leather Furniture Chair

You need vegetable tanned leather

When you smell vegetable tanned leather, you are reminded of smelling a good wine. The wonderful aromas come from the natural tannins that replace chrome in the tanning process. This is the old way of making leather.

Vegetable tanned leather has longer durability

Vegetable tanned leather lasts much longer than chrome tanned leather. As a matter of fact, you will notice that it will seem new, even after several years. As I am writing this article, I am sitting in a butterfly chair that a friend of mine bought six years ago. It was made with vegetable tanned leather and I cannot see anything on it that makes it look old.

It requires passionately waiting for days

The reason why vegetable tanned leather is more expensive than chrome tanned leather is that it takes longer time to make. The natural chemicals are not as effective as the heavy metals, thus taking longer time. A longer process means a more expensive product.

But isn’t vegetable tanned leather made in many countries?

Vegetable tanned leather doesn’t necessarily have to be Italian to be superior. This particular chair that I am sitting in is actually made of Argentine leather. You can find very good vegetable tanned leather in many parts of the world. So why is Italian leather considered the crème de la crème?

Enter The Silicon Valley of Vegetable Tanned Leather

Village In Tuscany, Italy

Visit Italian tanneries if you want to be fascinated

We went to Tuscany to find the best tannery in the world. To our surprise, we didn’t find a tannery! At least not the same type of tanneries that we were used to.

Normal tanneries try to do everything by themselves

The tanneries we have seen so far take care of the whole tanning process. As you might expect, the tanning process consists of many smaller steps that are usually performed in one single facility. A crude cowhide with meat and hair comes in. Out comes a nice vegetable tanned leather piece, ready to be turned into a bag, a shoe or a chair. If the tannery is weak in any of the smaller processes, the end product will suffer.

Italians outsource every step of the tanning process to a specialist

In Tuscany however, tanneries do not work this way. We found something more similar to the Silicon Valley of leather. The small town where we buy our leather consists of several companies, each specialized in a specific part of the tanning process. Every small company competes to be the one that takes care of its specialization. Skins move from specialist to specialist, receiving the best possible treatment there is for every part of the process.

This explains why Italian leather is still the best.

Italians Are As Passionate About Leather As They Are About Food

I will leave you with a quote from our main leather supplier in Tuscany.

“When I eat a pasta, I want to know where the wheat was grown. I want to know where the eggs were laid. I wanna know from which well the water was drawn. If I don’t know this, I cannot trust the food.”

He has the same philosophy when it comes to leather.


Are You A Fan Of Italian Leather? Let me know!

I would love you to share your experiences with Italian leather. Have you recently bought a leather item that you are very happy with? Perhaps you know something about leather that I have missed? Do you have any questions regarding leather? Let me know in the comments below. I will answer any question you have.

Don’t forget to share this article with as many people as possible so the common knowledge about Italian leather increases.


  • Thanks for the post. I’m looking to make my first shoe for my new shoe brand. Choosing the leather is very important to me. I really want the best of the best (and I realize that there will be subjective elements of this, and I’d like to decide which elements are most important to me and my customers). What would you suggest? Could we connect?

    • Hey Derek,

      Thanks for reaching out. In the case of shoes, there are many different factors that decide which type of leather you should go for. The type of shoe you are making and your customers’ profile will all determine what the best option is. I would love to talk a little more with you about this by email. Please write to me through our contact form and let me know a little more about you and your ideas.

  • Hey all!

    Just yesterday i bought a very awesome italian leather. It is so beautiful!
    I bought it from an wholesale store in vienna. I want to find out from which tannery this one is…

    Yes, but i´m very curious from which city in the Tuscany you are exactly talking about?
    It would be great to visit this city!
    Please let me know and thank you very much : )

  • Hello there,

    I’m Andre, a leather enthusiast with a budding brand –

    I found this post quite insightful. Definitely shed some light on how leather is made in Italy. Never knew that the outsourced the different steps of the tanning process.

    I’ll be making a trip down to Italy somewhere in early May and it would be great if you could let me know of various notable tanneries to visit! Definitely agree with what the main leather supplier said about wanting to know where the ingredients come from, I too want to know where my leather comes from.

    Hope you can advice, thanks!


  • Hey there,

    Interesting article. I’m curious to find out about the various Italian leather tanneries there are in Tuscany! Would be making a trip down to Florence and definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on a visit to those places. It would be great if you could let me know of several tanneries in Tuscany I could visit, thanks!

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Do You Want To Know Why Italian Leather Is Still The Best?

by Cuero Design time to read: 3 min