Materials used at Billie Marie
Solid Brass Hardware
PVD Coated Matte Black Hardware
The tanning process is one of the biggest distinguishers in the world of leather. It refers to the process the skin of an animal goes through to turn it into leather. The tanning process uses various types of tannins to modify the protein in the skin and stop it from decomposing. Popular tanning processes include - chrome-tanned, vegetable-tanned and oil-tanned.
Vegetable-tanned Leather (Veg-tan)
Vegetable-tanned leather is known for its beautiful, classic look and tell tale honey colored patina that develops over time. The tanning process is slightly more environmentally friendly than others since it uses tannins naturally found in vegetable matter. This tanning process leaves the surface of the leather “untreated” and able to darken and soften with time.
Vegetable-tanned leather gains a beautiful honey color and glossy look over time, this is called a Patina. You can think of a patina the same as you would a sun tan when you've sat out in the sun for a while. It happens over time as a result of the oils in our skin transfering to the leather and the sun/wear-and-tear darkening the color of the leather. Think of your grandfather's favorite briefcase or a beautiful honey-colored sturdy bag in a vintage store.
Other leathers don't gain such a drastic patina because they are treated with chemicals, dyes and oils at the end of the tanning process to ensure they maintain the same look over time.
Billie Marie Veg-tan
Billie Marie items made from vegetable-tanned leather all have a light water-resistant coating over the surface of the leather. With that said, please keep in mind that due to lack of chemicals in the tanning process, this leather will stain more easily than others until the patina has formed. Wearing vegetable-tanned bags and wallets next to clothing with dark dyes may result in smudges of clothing dye on your leather item.
The great part about veg-tan is that you don’t need to “clean it”, the spots and smudges will all blend into the patina over time. We love the look of this leather as it develops the characteristic soft patina which will reduce the appearance of water marks and scuffs as well as protect the leather from future stains.
Apply a small drop of neatsfoot oil or mink oil (any type of leather cream or unscented body lotion will work in a pinch!) with a soft, clean cotton cloth using a circular motion when the leather looks dry or feels brittle. Continue doing this until the entire piece has darkened in color from the oil. The oil will soak in over the next 24 hrs and the color will return to the pre-oiled color. If you do this every couple months, the leather will stay healthy and beautiful. The better you care for vegetable-tanned leather goods, the nicer they will look throughout your lifetime.
If you spill something on a 100% vegetable-tanned bag, you can soak the item in room temperature water until the water has penetrated the leather (no more than 30 min). After you have soaked the item, place on a clean surface in the sun until it is completely dried through, for 1-2 days depending on the strength of the sun. Apply a heavy coat of neatsfoot oil, mink oil or heavy beeswax based moisturizer to the item after it has dried completely. Done!
*Please note that you may see puckering on the surface of the leather from soaking it. This is not a perfect method and please try at your own risk. You can always take your bag to a dry cleaner that specializes in leather cleaning
Chrome-tanned Leather (Chrome-tan)
When in doubt, it's usually chrome-tanned leather. This type of leather is the most common leather used by the fashion industry because the manmade chemicals used in the tanning process are easier to procure on an industrial scale. It is preferred by mass-manufacturers and luxury brands because of the soft, flexible feel and uniformity in look. Chrome-tanning uses chromium salts as the tanning agent and turns the skin a light blue color. Different finishes & dyes are used to add color and softness back into the finished leather.
While vegetable-tanned leather is sturdy, stiff and takes some time to break in, chrome-tanned leather is the opposite, much thinner and very supple from the start. That means there is far less break in time with a chrome-tanned leather bag, however, chrome-tanned leather goods aren’t as durable over the long-term as veg-tan.
Chrome-tanned leather will stain if you use an oil based moisturizer, like neatsfoot or mink oil, so please make sure to use a water-based one. Put a quarter size drop of moisturizer on a clean cotton cloth and apply to the bag in circular motions. Make sure to cover the surface and rub in any excess moisturizer. Let it soak in for 3-4 hrs before using.
If you use your leather item frequently, apply a coat of moisture one to two times per year.
If you spill something on your leather item or find a stain, take a damp cloth and dab at the stain. Let dry. If that doesn’t work, you can use a white Staedtler eraser (or similar high quality white rubber eraser) and try to erase the stain.
If that doesn’t work, please take it to a dry cleaner that specializes in leather cleaning. Do not put it in the washing machine or use any soap or laundry stain remover.
Oil-tanned Leather (Oil-tan)
More information coming soon!
Solid Brass Hardware
All gold colored hardware is made from solid brass on Billie Marie products. We believe in using materials which will last the decades and thus have decided not to use plastic or plated hardware in any of our products.
All silver colored hardware is made from solid nickel on Billie Marie products.
PVD-coated Black Matte Hardware
All black colored hardware is made from PVD-coated solid brass on Billie Marie products. We grew frustrated with normal black metal hardware because it was spray painted and would chip within weeks of use. Our black hardware is now PVD-coated which is a much stronger and more chip-resistant finish.
Read about the Billie Marie Two Year Warranty to see if your item qualifies to be fixed or replaced for free
Book a conditioning appointment or send us your leather care question via email!