Our intern, Lauren, spent a lot of time learning about our product and felt inspired to write this in-depth (and awesome) post about vegetable tanned leather.
Laiik sandals are one of a kind, not only because of our styles, colors and signature sole, but because of our leather and its amazing craftsmanship!
When the founders began work on Laiik, they wanted to source the best materials available with an eye both on quality and ethical manufacturing. Early on, they discovered Pelle Al Vegetale, a genuine Italian vegetable tanned leather consortium, and they fell in love. The tanneries in this consortium make classic vachetta leathers that are not only of a premium quality but also use environmentally-responsible methods. And this is all done through a process called vegetable tanning.
From bags to shoes to saddles, all leather goods begin with tanning. Leather is one of the oldest natural products, and as such is perishable. Tanning stabilizes and preserves raw animal hides so that they can be used for years to come. Vegetable-tanning is traditional, artisanal and the most organic way of tanning. It has been traced back to as early as 6000 BCE and uses tannic acids found in oak and chestnut trees as well as a variety of vegetables. The most popular form of tanning used extensively in the fashion industry is chrome tanning, which relies on harmful substances like chromium and nickel and which can irritate metal allergies and damage the environment.
Natural tannins, however, are biodegradable and cause minimal damage to the environment. It takes highly-skilled craftsman and significantly more time than other tanning methods. We love it because it allows our leathers to age beautifully over time and contributes to the vibrance you see in the Helios and Brick colored sandals. The Natural color in particular is one of our favorites. So named because it’s the least processed of all the colors, the Natural darkens with exposure to the sun to form a rich, luxurious patina, making each pair as unique as those who wear them.
Our Kiki in Natural, "after and before" a few months of wear and exposure to the sun.
We chose to use Vachetta leather in the uppers of our sandals because it is treated with care and patience, and no one pair ages the same. Luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Coach use it because of its high quality and long-lasting beauty. Our leathers are tanned with natural ingredients, so it is susceptible to changes from the sun and the rain, but that’s what makes them unique!
Each pair tells a story, not only of the factory but of its owners and all of their amazing memories wearing their Laiik sandals!