Sustainable Leather Tanning and Dying

Sustainable Leather Tanning and Dying

Bringing Colour to Life!

 ‘Aurora London bags are made from sustainably tanned and

organically dyed leathers. The outcome is simply better in every way, for you, for fashion,

for the planet.'


Vegetable Tanning

Tanning is the process that turns animal hides into workable leather. However, only 10% of leather is tanned this way, using natural vegetable tannins to change the protein structure of the leather, the process known as ‘tanning’. These organic substances strengthen, preserve, and colour the hides. The age-old natural process is championed by connoisseurs and artisans for its sustainability over mass produced leathers where chemical processes use chrome and acids to speed up the tanning result.

 Tree barks, roots, and leaves all have exceptionally high tannin properties and have been used to colour clothing and bags for thousands of years. Like much of the knowledge they inherited from older cultures, the Romans regulated the process when Tuscan craftsmen perfected sandal manufacture, many worn by the legionnaires who marked from Scotland to Persia. ‘Italia’ is in fact a derivation of ‘Vitalia’, the name the Greeks gave the Latin regions, meaning ‘land of calves’, in recognition of the local Italian expertise of working with cows and hides. The skins then, like today, were salted and ‘limed’ to precent bacterial growth and to remove the hair and fat, after which tanning agents are added, today in revolving tanning drums. A month later, oils and waxes are applied before the skins are stretched and dried.

 The results is sweet-smelling leather which is rich in natural earthy colour tones and with a unique patina which celebrates the natural texture of the hide. The whole process can take two months and inevitably means vegetable tanned leathers are more expensive than their chemical counterparts, but they are good for a lifetime of use! What’s more, this is an environmentally friendly industry and when leather goods made this way are finally consigned to the grave, vegetable tanned leather will biodegrade safely. Read more here 


Organic Colourings

Like vegetable tanning, the organic dying of leather using vegetables and minerals is an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic dying with chemicals. Wonderful colours are found in nature incrushed grapes and berries, roots, tree barks and nuts. Acorns, acacia, chestnut, cranberries, elderberries, and red grapes have been used for thousands of years to make vibrant colour for clothes and leather goods. Henna, vinegar, rust, red cabbage and beetroot yield pigments of reds and oranges, while snails for cochineal carmine, insects, cuttlefish and poppy flowers produce valuable purples and browns which were worth their weight in gold in the ancient world, as was the subtle pigment of aromatic sandalwood. Turmeric and saffron produce vibrant yellows, mint for green, pomegranate gives orange, and indigo leaves produce dye in deep blue. Mixing them together produces a rainbow of natural tones.

These pigments are mixed with water and then the leather is immersed in the colour vats; imagine images of the vibrant dying pits in Fez, Morocco, where the same techniques and ingredients -including, cow urine, pigeon droppings, quick lime and salt - have been used for over a thousand years. The only downside to the process is the pungent stench!

Our Spanish ateliers in Ubrique, Spain, where Aurora London bags are manufactured, source local and Italian leathers similarly coloured using natures pigments for stunning results. See our range of bags where we quite simply, we bring you the colour of life!


‘’Vibrant colours from natural pigments, so you can

wear them with pride.’


 Bring colour to your world with an Aurora London bag.

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