di Gustavo De Feo*
A few months ago, together with the Consorzio Vera Pelle Conciata al Vegetale in Tuscany, we started a research project concerning vegetable leather ageing. Just like, for us time passes inexorably, slowly transforming our appearance, nourishing our life of experiences that is then visible on our leather, vegetable leather over the years acquires its own character. In our research we have observed how the real vegetable leather, unlike other materials, slowly mutates towards warmer tones of its tannic nature. What we observe is not just a change of color, but the emergence of a temperament, of a soul. Vegetal leather gives us the meaning of a lived life. After the presentation of the results of the project that we held last November at the Italian Institute of Culture in Tokyo (pictured: poster), a lady approached us to show us, with some pride, her leather bag. “I have been using it every day for sixteen years – she told us – and every day it gets more beautiful”. This experience made me think about true sustainability. The massive production of products made of synthetic materials to obey ephemeral fashions can never be less impactful than a leather article created to last over the years. On the contrary, some creations of the most famous brands have already become cult, with a not-indifferent second-hand market. The beauty of ageing is not a unique prerogative of vegetable-tanned leather, but of any kind of tanning, if in the realization the intrinsic characteristics of the nature of the leather material have been respected. True sustainability is in the articles we produce because they last over time and not to obey the current trend. Genuine leather, as we know it, was born to last over time, to age simply and with beauty.
* Born in Argentina, he has a thirty years experience in the field of analytical chemistry and color physics applied to the industry. He has worked for multinational companies in the sector, won international awards and founded the Ars Tinctoria laboratory in Santa Croce sull’Arno.