We were thrilled to have been mentioned in a recent article written for the Observer Magazine by Lucy Siegle. The article questioned the morality and ethics of leather and the implications of a culture that wants more and more cheap leather goods so that the demand for leather outweighs the demand for meat thus it is no longer a byproduct of the food market. It gave us much food for thought and on the back of it we thought it was about time we write a blog post highlighting our feelings around the industry and how we are aspiring to make it as ethical and natural a process as possible with full traceability of all our products. We are also keen to face the beast head on and open up a discussion so we can hear from you the people who buy our products and read our news. What are your feelings around the matter? Do you have any burning questions that you would like answered? We are starting a discussion over on our facebook page for people with questions and comments and hopefully we can open up a lively and informative debate on the matter.
Please follow the link to our facebook page to leave your questions and comments.
We are also really keen to celebrate companies that are World renown who are making a real effort to ensure their products have full traceability. For example Clarks, Timberland, and Patagonia ensure full traceability on all their leather goods and we wanted to give a shout out and say well done to them. Yes leather undeniably comes from animals and in that process they have to die. We have always and I think it's true to say will always be meat eaters in smaller or larger numbers throughout the World. So as a byproduct of that industry is leather a good thing? As someone who eats meat, and I hasten to add only free range and organic where available, better still road kill, I would much rather that the entire animal is being used.
At Tanner Bates, all our leather is a byproduct of the meat industry. Not only that but the leather used in our Oak Bark products comes from Devon cows and is tanned in Devon at a tannery called Bakers which uses oak bark, as the name would suggest, sourced from a small coppice in the Lake district, to naturally tan the hides. It is the last tannery of its kind in Europe. We also use Spanish veg tanned leather that is tanned in Spain using mostly wild deer and goat hides. John regularly takes business trips to Spain to meet our suppliers and to continue to build on the relationship we have with these small family run business. Not only do we then have a good working relationship with the companies we use but we can also ensure by seeing it for ourselves where the leather we use comes from and that it is tanned using the most responsible methods possible. Another tannery we use is Horween in Chicago famous for its specialism in American horse hides.
Leather working has been part of our heritage for as long as anyone can remember and long long before that too. At Tanner Bates we are passionate about sustaining this skill and taking it forwards for future generations. Our other business is Leather School which runs various courses for people keen to come and learn about leather work and discover and develop new skills. We take pride in teaching our students the background of leather and sharing with them our own stance and actions to making it as responsible as possible.
We are with Lucy in believing that leather is becoming a modern commodity with no thought as to where it comes from or what impact it is having on the world. We believe how ever that it doesn't have to be banished entirely and that with a little thought and care into what it is you are buying, a little insistence for knowledge of the background of the product it can remain a luxury item for generations to come. And of course if you are willing to invest in a high end product made by an artisan craftsman then yes it will be more pricey at first but when your children and grandchildren are still using the bag or belt or wallet will it still feel pricey?
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Perhaps you know that one of our favourite and very special leathers we use here at Tanner Bates is our Russia Kip Calfskin Leather produced at our local tannery in East Devon. It has a fantastic story behind it - which you may already know. However for those of you who don’t, we’d love to share this with you.
Provenance really matters to us.
Our leather is tanned in the old fashioned way, in small family run tanneries. It is a slow process, but uses only natural ingredients to create the tan. All of our leather is a byproduct of the meat industry. We are passionate about not wasting a thing.
Our Oak Bark Tanned Leather: The beauty of this story is that it is a truly local Devon story. The animals are bred, live and are slaughtered in Devon. The meat is most probably consumed in Devon. The hides are tanned locally, in Devon at J&FJ Baker & Co. We hand craft all of our products in small batches right here in our Devon workshop.