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Italian Vachetta leather in all its beauty explained

Centre stage in the manufacture of everything from high-end luggage items to briefcases, Vachetta leather is near the top of the pecking order when it comes to luxury hides.

If you’ve ever wondered ‘what is Vachetta leather?’ or ‘why should I choose Vachetta leather?’ read on for the lowdown on one of the finest hides available.

What is Vachetta leather?

While there is no formal definition, Vachetta leather is a type of full-grain, vegetable-tanned leather (read more here), made from cow hides.

Vachetta, in particular, is distinguished by its high fat content and natural, almost untreated finish. The fat content creates a soft, buttery-to-the-touch finish.

While the name Vachetta comes from the French word for cattle, it actually has an Italian heritage, being produced mainly in Tuscany. Hence the common description of Florentine Vachetta leather.

Luxury giants such as Louis Vuitton have elevated this particular hide to a coveted status, with the LV monogram and uncoloured Vachetta handles and trims seen widely across its product range. Recently, Vachetta has enjoyed a spike in popularity through its use in sneakers including the Jordan Vachetta Tan sneaker.

In its raw state, Vachetta leather is often a pale beige or off-white colour but it can be dyed in a number of hues. Find it used in anything from shoes, wallets or bags to much larger pieces of luggage and furniture.

One of the most notable characteristics is the hide’s ageing process. As time passes, the colour almost always darkens – or begins to develop a patina – ensuring your piece remains unique. This means that no two bags will look exactly the same as each will have its own distinctive characteristics.

Vachetta leather is a timeless staple used in many other products –follow our care guide below to ensure yours is kept in prime condition.

Carl Friedrik’s Vachetta leather

Such is the quality of Vachetta leather that we only use it in our products – and vegetable-tanned, full-grain leather no less. Indeed, all our hides are produced by Tuscany-based leather tannery Artigiano del Cuoio which has worked leather for almost a century.

Respecting tradition goes to the very heart of the tannery’s approach, ensuring leather produced in 2019 is just as impressive as that produced in 1920. The starting point has and always will be the selection of the raw material – using fresh salted bovine shoulders of European origin. What follows is a century’s worth of craftsmanship governing the leather processing, tanning and fattening stages.

In keeping with modern standards, our leather is produced with sustainability in mind – in particular, water-saving measures and the reduction of water consumption and dangerous chemicals used in the process.

Minimalist designs and no-fuss functionality are our calling cards, with our overall aesthetic enhanced by the natural look and feel of Vachetta leather.

While Vachetta leather bags by established luxury players can cost a small fortune (read: thousands of pounds), we work to get our high-quality leather goods to you at less than £500. How? Because our goods are only available directly through our website – no middlemen, no established retailers, no markups.

Whilst other Italian leather Vachetta bags on the market can cost thousands of pounds, because the only place that you can purchase a Carl Friedrik bag is from our website, it means that it’s possible for you to own your very own luxury Vachetta leather bag for less than £300.

We also offer a unique take on Vachetta leather when it comes to the embossed versions that we use on our Chester, Hanbury and Bolton pieces. By taking the smooth Vachetta leather and then embossing a grain pattern onto it, this makes for a highly unique finish that you won’t find elsewhere.

To make our products more resistant to water and marks, a slight surface finish is applied, in a similar vein to what Louis Vuitton also do. The leather is then dyed to a desired effect. This means that you can purchase your favourite Carl Friedrik designs in a variety of different colours. From different hues of brown, to the classic black and bold navy shades, we have colours to suit every taste.

Cleaning and caring for Vachetta leather

Why you need to care for Vachetta leather

Your first port of call for ensuring your leather item lasts a lifetime is a tip-top aftercare regime. True, Vachetta leather is very strong and durable, but it’s also sensitive to marking. Having said that, unlike cheaper leather which also gets scratched, these marks can be treated to blend into the overall look. This process, along with its colour which naturally changes, is what creates the beautiful leather patina.

How to clean Vachetta leather

If you’ve ever wondered how to clean Vachetta leather, we recommend using either unscented and alcohol-free wipes or a leather cream. The Carl Friedrik Leather Cream is designed specifically for Vachetta leather and will give a uniform finish, while also ensuring that it is both nourished and protected. While using wipes will allow you to keep on top of any dust or dirt that has settled on the bag, leather cream is the best conditioner for Vachetta leather.

We often get asked how to protect Vachetta leather: our advice is simply to ensure you care for and maintain your leather products so that they develop an even patina.

Tips and tricks

Follow these tips to keep your bag in great condition:

  • Don’t use too much hand cream or lotion when carrying Vachetta leather handles or holding your bag, as the grease can leave a stain and cause these specific areas to darken at a much quicker rate than a natural patina.
  • If you can, try to be mindful of placing your Vachetta leather bag on dirty or greasy floors, as this can stain the leather. The same can be said for less than pristine countertops and desks.
  • Store your bag or Vachetta leather item in a dust bag when it’s not in use. This will protect the item from gathering dust or dirt. Just don’t seal it in a plastic bag as this can cause the leather to dry out, which in turn will mean that the leather will lose its smooth, buttery texture. Remember that the leather needs to breathe.
  • Apply a waterproofing spray before having your leather bag come into contact with denim and other non-colourfast materials. The dye from these fabrics can easily transfer onto and stain the leather.
  • Unless you are looking to speed up the patinaing process, it is best to keep your bag out of direct sunlight and heat in order for it to age naturally.

For more general leather bag care tips and tricks, be sure to check out our leather bag care blog post.