Discover the wonders of Tochigi Leather
What is Tochigi Leather?
Source: HASHIMOTO INDUSTRY Co.,Ltd.
Tochigi is a worldwide leader in the production of leather that uses only natural vegetable tannin.
Since 1937, Tochigi has been producing premium leather goods in Japan. It's one of the few remaining tanneries that still produce vegetable-tanned leather. Aside from being known for its unique products, the company also focuses on the details of its leather.
The main reason why Tochigi Leather is regarded as a rare find is that it only uses 100% natural vegetable tannin. The 160 pits in the manufacturing factory are filled with this special solution, which has been continuously added to the leather for many decades. The natural process of adding this secret ingredient to the leather slowly and effectively contributes to its longevity.
The term vegetable-tanned refers to the process of turning the skin into leather using natural compounds. This method, which is known to be around for centuries, is one of the oldest techniques for making leather. Although it's been around for centuries, less than 10% of the leather in the world is made using this process.
The other unique properties of vegetable-tanned are its ability to age and develop rich and lasting leather. This process is also beneficial for bags and watch straps making as it allows the craftsmen to create a product that is both unique and authentic.
Aside from its durability and natural appearance, Tochigi leather also has a unique expression that changes as you use it.
Over the years, Tochigi leather has undergone various processes. The selected artisans have been carefully following the old-fashioned method of preserving the leather's natural appearance. Through meticulous effort and techniques, they can create leather that’s both unique and of superb quality.
The traditional process of "tanning" involves using various plant components to prevent the leather from becoming hard and rotting. It's a technique that was used by the ancient people when cloth and textiles were not yet available.
The Process - From Skin to Leather
The process of leather production involves treating the skins of animals to alter their protein structure. It can be done through either vegetable methods or chemicals. The former is referred to as "vegetable tanned," while the latter is called "chrome tanned."
The entire process of tanning usually takes about 20 days - it’s definitely not an easy task to undertake. Since the craftsmen at Tochigi believe in preserving the traditional methods of this special leather production, they continue to follow this process to date.
At the warehouse, the raw materials used for making Tochigi leather are kept there. There, the smell of animals filled the room as the fur and meat remained stuck in the salt-drenched hide.
The first step in the process of making leather is to prepare the hides. After removing the hair, they spend a couple of days rehydrating them and then cutting the entire hide into two pieces.
The hides are then washed with water to remove dirt, salt, and other harmful substances. After this, the raw hide is split into half pieces to prevent it from getting too large.
After having been soaked for a period, the skins and hides are then treated with lime. This process mainly involves removing the fur, nails, and other soluble matter.
It also removes some of the interfibrillar proteins, as well as the natural fats and grease found in the skin. The fur then falls off as the skin is warmed.
The next step is a process called “fleshing”. It is a process that involves scraping and fleshing the skin using a knife.
The skin is then delimed, which is done to neutralize its alkaline properties. After that, the skins are left in the bath, which gives them the necessary degree of elasticity and softness. They are then prepared for the next process - tanning.
Tanning / Finishing
Inside the manufacturing plant, there are 160 pits filled with various concentrations of auburn acids, which are extracted from Brazilian mimosa.
The hides and skins need to go through the acid bath one after another. During this process, the proteins on the skin transform into leather. After a few days, the leather is washed and dried using a machine known as a summing machine.
After adding oil, flattening equally, and colouring, the leather creation process is completed. At this point, it is easy to imagine how this material can be transformed into multiple daily goods such as shoes, bags and watch straps.
Source: JAPAN LEATHER JOURNAL
Today, the process of leather production has evolved to make it easier to tan. However, this process does not use harmful chemicals. Tochigi leather still uses plant-derived ingredients with the same process, which means that it takes the same amount of time and effort to tan.
Source: Japan Leather Journal
Tochigi "Jeans" is a versatile oil-tanned leather that can be used for a wide range of applications, such as bags, belts, shoes, and more. It's characterized by its casual look and is commonly referred to as "Jeans", a hip label for various Brands.
The Red Label
Source: MonotaRO Singapore
Like other tanneries in Italy, Tochigi leather has its own quality guarantee label to signify its commitment to quality - the Red Label.
This prestigious label is similar to how other tanneries in the country have been able to earn the reputation of being able to provide their customers with the best possible service. All of the artisans who work for the company are highly skilled and have the necessary experience to ensure that their leather has been carefully finished and tanned - definitely the best possible quality.
Tochigi Watch Straps
Tochigi "Jeans" Leather Watch Strap by Strapatelier
At Strapatelier, we have carefully selected full-grain Tochigi leather to provide our customers with the finest possible quality. This type of leather is known to be incredibly durable and has 100% natural characteristics. It's also known to last for a long time due to the care and attention it receives.
All our Tochigi leather straps are made entirely handmade by professional leather artisans who pay close attention to even the smallest details like burnishing, stitching, and edge creases.
Be sure to check them out here.