Our bags are made with full-grain vegetable-tanned leather*, which is a durable leather that develops a lovely patina over time with continued use. It is thicker than conventional, chrome-tanned leather, which also lends it to be more stiff in the beginning. This video shows how to quickly soften the leather, as well as the proper steps for detaching and attaching the leather shoulder strap and front closure on our Peg and Awl bags.
One of the key steps to speed up the breaking in process of leather is to simply twist and roll the leather in your fingers. As you use your bag the leather will naturally soften and become much easier to maneuver. Whether you help it out, or simply use your bag, the breaking in process does not take long!!
*What is Vegetable Tanned Leather? Vegetable tanning is a slow, natural, and sustainable process of tanning raw hides with natural, biodegradable extracts derived entirely from vegetable sources such as tree bark.
*The leather is the most stiff when it is new. As you use it and work with it, it will soften.
- Hold the button stud and pull the leather strap to bring the button stud into the leather slot.
- Firmly and slowly work the leather over the button stud. Take your time working with the leather as it softens.
Step 2: Attaching the Shoulder Strap
Twist and roll the strap to soften the leather. It does not take long to break in.
Press the leather slot over the button stud. Hold the stud and pull the leather strap to bring the stud into the hole.
Our first bag – The Waxed Canvas Tote – which we finished with reclaimed military leather slings found at a flea market. Dusty and dull with years of neglect, the leather was unassuming. But with some hot soapy water, perseverance, and beeswax balm, we removed the layers to find stories told through the markings of days past. We were delighted! The usefulness of the leather sent us on a mission to scour flea markets and military shows for as many old slings as we could find. For years we used these relics to finish our bags – until there were no more to be found.
And so, a new mission was soon underway: the search for the right new leather. We began in the UK driving along long and winding roads through the English countryside to visit J&FJ Baker, a 500-year-old tannery. This experience and many subsequent conversations enriched our understanding of a leather world we had known nothing about.
While shipping leather from the UK turned out to be impractical, we left enlightened with the knowledge that there do exist a few companies who produce leather in a sustainable and responsible way. When we returned to America we found Wickett & Craig – only a stone’s throw from our shop in Philadelphia. Their vegetable tanning process is a slow, natural, and eco-friendly process of tanning raw hides with natural, biodegradable extracts derived entirely from vegetable sources such as tree bark. This durable leather breaks in and gathers a gorgeous patina, bearing the marks of the users’ (and makers’) adventures – the very thing we’ve always celebrated! We’ve been using this leather for three years now and love it!
With the transition from using reclaimed WWII era gun straps for our leather handles to using locally-sourced vegetable-tanned leather, we are reaffirming the fellowship between ourselves and the materials with which we make. By creating beautiful and useful objects out of sustainable and responsibly sourced materials, we strive to change the way that we as individuals make, use, repair and reuse everyday objects. As our new bags leave our Philadelphia workshop and arrive at your doorsteps, what adventures will they see in your hands and how will they transform to become truly yours?