December 22, 2022

In part 1 of this series, we discussed what exactly metal free vegetable tanned leather is for our leather patch custom logo hats & leather keychains, the difference of vegetable tanned leather versus metal chrome tanned tanned leather, why we use vegetable tanned metal free leather for our leather patch hats and leather keychains and more. (click here to read Part 1 first)

Here in Part 2, we're going to go over some common questions and confusions surrounding vegetable tanned leather especially for our leather patch hats and the differences of leathers on the market today.

Alright, let's dive in 👇 


Vegetable tanned leather vs full grain leather vs bridle leather

Is vegetable tanned leather full grain?  Is full grain vegetable tanned leather good? is bridle leather full grain?
Common Q's:
  • Is vegetable tanned leather full grain? 
  • Is full grain vegetable tanned leather good?
  • is bridle leather full grain?
  • what's the best leather for leather patch hats?

Full Grain Leather

To start, "full grain leather" simply refers to the layer of the hide that is used.

Full grain leather is the outer most layer of the hide, which makes it the strongest and most tough part of the leather. This is why Dekni has chosen to use full grain vegetable tanned bridle leather for all of our custom leather patch hats, leather keychains and accessories. 

For example, suede leather, as we know it is very soft and pliable, and this is because it comes from an inner part of the skin, which is the softest part of the hide.

This is accomplished through the splitting process which separates the outer (full grain) and inner (suede) layer of the hide.

Therefore, vegetable tanned leather refers to the tanning process, whereas full grain refers to the what layer of the hide is used.

This means, vegetable tanned leather can come in various forms of leather. 

Various leather's are used for different purposes, we wouldn't say one is necessarily better than the other across the board, but for certain purposes, there are definitely different jobs for only certain leather grains.


Bridle leather

Lastly, bridle leather IS full grain, vegetable tanned leather but with additional finishes.

Bridle leather is infused and finished with ample amounts of waxes and oils in order to withstand environmental elements and rigorous outdoor usage (ie head/body sweat, rugged outdoor activities, construction/farm work, etc.

"English Bridle is a traditional leather with a variety of uses, from classic equestrian gear to high-end leather goods. Drum dyed and hot stuffed, English Bridle is smooth, flexible yet durable." - Wickett & Craig

Vegetable Tanned Bridle Leather is what Dekni use's for our high end fully custom leather patch hats and custom leather keychains engraved with your logo.



Is vegetable tanned leather vegan?

If you’ve read part 1, I’m sure you’re aware now that vegetable tanned leather is NOT vegan.

Although, it is very common for people to mistake a label reading “vegetable tanned leather” as a “vegan leather.”

Even though “vegetable” is in the name, and even though there are many leather substitutes these days, if it’s “veg tanned leather” it is real genuine leather.

Vegetable tanned leather is genuine leather.


Vegetable tanned leather vs vegan leather

real leather vs faux leather vs vegan leather vegetable tanned leather custom leather goods dekni


What can often happen is that when people are searching for sustainable and eco friendly alternatives to leather, they may come to the conclusion that vegan leather, faux leather, eco leather or "pleather" is the best solution.

This can make sense in theory, but it is not always the truth.

Unfortunately these terms are used by the fashion industry to mask the the reality that the materials are cheaply made with plastic.

While vegan leather can be made from materials such as grape skins, cactus, pineapple fiber, mushrooms / mycelium, cork (the best), apple peels, other fruit waste, and other biomass and recycled plastic, most of these substances are still transformed into bio-plastics and treated with harmful chemicals which have similar detriments on us and the environment for similar reasons as we discussed with chromium tanning.

But the even bigger problem lies in the fact that most vegan leather is often made from polyurethane, a polymer.

“Synthetic vegan leather is derived from petroleum-based plastics, most commonly: polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (vinyl or PVC).
Like all plastics, PU and PVC are derived from petroleum or natural gas. Extracting fossil fuels to manufacture synthetic vegan leather comes at the environmental and human cost of drilling, pumping, transporting, and processing finite fossil inputs. In particular, the carbon footprint associated with driving chemical processes that produce & manufacture plastics constitutes significant impacts — including emissions presently not accounted for by LCAs.


Not only do PU and PVC cause tremendous harm on the production side, but at the end of their lives, these materials will eventually: 
    • get dumped in a landfill where they’ll leach harmful chemicals for decades; 
    • be incinerated, releasing carbon into the atmosphere; 
    • and/or disintegrate into microplastic pollution that ends up in our oceans, drinking water, and soils. 

These complex composites cannot be recycled in any substantial way and cannot provide nutrients back to the earth as they break down, which therefore are not environmentally friendly.

You can read more about the detriment and alternative solutions here. 


Vegetable tanned leather offers a better alternative for those who want to use leather but also want to offer non toxic products and have less of a negative environmental impact than the traditional leather industry has.

While some people disagree on the fact that using even vegetable tanned leather is unacceptable, the leather industry is alive and well, and for those who want leather, choosing vegetable tanned leather, and even better, from manufactures here in the USA, offers a safer non toxic working environment as well as the fact that leather is a byproduct of what’s already there from meat consumption vs being wasted. 



How to tell vegetable tanned leather

From looking at it with plain sight, it's not always so simple to tell the difference.

But, you can actually test your leather through the flame technique to fully recognize and know the difference. Through burning the edge of some leather, gathering the ashes and observing them over a white sheet of paper, you can see one of two things.

"If there are small brown shaving are formed, it is a vegetable tanned leather. vegetable tanningThe brown colour comes from the vegetable tannins. If the tip of your leather turns green, it is a mineral tanned leather, the greenish colour coming from the chrome used in mineral tanning." - Radermecker

To read more about this technique, click here.

Here’s an example of our vegetable tanned leather patch hats and leather keychains with custom logos - note the rich color on the patches.


vegetable tanned leather patch hats custom leather keychains veg tan leather patches how to tell dekni

When you order, and feel the leather in your hands, you’ll be able to tell the difference of the firmness and stronger feel of the veg tanned leather.



How a custom leather patch hat company is helping the environment with vegetable tanned leather

While we here at Dekni Creations have chosen to use veg tan leather for our custom leather hats and other leather goods, despite a lot of leather patch hat companies which aren’t typically made with vegetable tanned leather but instead with chrome tanned leather - we don’t want to stop there.

We’ve been looking within, and we’ve noticed we’re contributing to a lot of waste with cardboard, plastic bags, packaging, thread types, hat fabrics, etc, and we’re being lead to be more conscious as much as we can, and striving towards improvement to lessening our environmental impact and offsetting our waste and consumption.

We have more goals for the future (hint, 2023 we have A LOT of new exciting changes), stay tuned to see how partnering with us, what we can do in the future to make a positive impact on the world we all share.


 Part 1 of this article

👉 If you haven't already, be sure to check out Part 1 of this article for some common questions and confusions surrounding vegetable tanned leather and the differences of leathers on the market today. Click here now!




Looking for your own customized veg tan leather goods with YOUR logo engraved/embossed on?

where to buy sustainable headwear and eco friendly hats with custom logo in the usa organic cotton hemp recycled hats


Custom leather patch hats with your logo with vegetable tanned leather


custom leather patch beanies with your logo vegetable tanned metal free leather


Custom leather keychains with your logo with vegetable tanned leather





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