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While many types of leather are used today to manufacture finished products of varying quality, Vachetta leather has been at the top of this hierarchy for many years. But it is not easy at first to determine exactly what it is.
Vachetta leather is an authentic cowhide, vegetable tanned and with a refined finish, offering a smooth and silky touch. It is light in color, most often beige, and develops beautiful hues over time due to the natural phenomenon of patination.
It is extremely popular and mainly used in the luxury industry, notably by Louis Vuitton or Coach, to make straps, handles or trimmings for leather goods.
But do you really know what this leather is made of? What is its history and uses? Why choose it rather than another despite its high price?
Let us guide you through this article and discover all the secrets of one of the most refined and sought after leathers today.
What you will discover in this article:
What Is Vachetta Leather?
It should be noted that Vachetta Leather does not have an official definition. However, practice, time and clever use of marketing have made it a type of leather in its own right.
Vachetta is a type of Italian full grain leather (preserved in its full width of the skin, without any correction) of high quality, from a calf skin (young cow or ox). This leather is characterized by its tanning process which is done in a vegetable way.
The use of young calf skin is explained by the suppleness, smoothness, softness and uniformity of their skin, giving Vachetta leather a fine finish (1 to 2 millimeters thick) that is smooth, solid and pleasant to the touch. It is therefore often a by-product of the meat industry, and allows the reuse of the animals' skin for transformation.
The vegetable tanning used to transform the skin into leather is a treatment that, instead of using chemical and mineral elements such as chromium, uses only natural plant extracts.
The process takes longer, lasting several weeks, but is much less stressful on the hide, resulting in a softer leather with lighter tones (off-white or beige), closer to the animal's original color.
The finishing process of the cowhide in Vachetta leather is also very sober and it has almost no finish, dyes or alterations, which is very rare in the industry and characterizes the Vachetta leather.
It is distinguished by its low fat content, which coupled with a light treatment offers a particularly soft touch finish. Sometimes dyed, its world-famous signature remains beige or off-white.
Vachetta leather has long been confined to the world of luxury, including Louis Vuitton who uses it extensively to design the straps and handles of its handbags. However, it is gradually democratized and appears more and more on "consumer" products, as was the case on the Jordan Vachetta Tan Sneaker. It is mainly used for the confessions of accessories or leather goods but it is also found in the furniture industry.
One of the characteristics sought by leather aficionados is the development of its patina over time. Indeed, light colored and untreated, leather evolves with normal wear and exposure to the natural elements and develops beautiful darker tones. This affirms the authentic character of the product while making it absolutely unique, no two bags being alike.
📷 Credit: FashionablyAMY's Youtube Channel
Why is it called Vachetta Leather and Where is it Made ?
Vachetta leather is an ancestral leather, which has not always been called by this name. For a long time it was referred to as "untreated calf leather, vegetable tanned".
Its origin lies in the Italian region of Tuscany, which explains why it was, and still is, sometimes referred to as Tuscan leather, or Florentine Vachetta.
The term "Vachetta" comes from a mixture of French and Italian, given by the Italian bag makers of the time to distinguish it from other types of leather, this one being of higher quality and more refined.
They used the French term "vachette" which means young cow, and transformed it into an Italian word, taking care to always write Vachetta with a capital letter to assert its distinction.
Today, its production is no longer restricted to Italy and there are producers of Vachetta all over the world, even if some big brands like to buy from Italy, a mark of quality, ancestral knowledge and historical heritage. It is also a marketing asset to emphasize the luxury and superiority of the material.
What is Vachetta Leather Used For?
As we have just seen, the history of cowhide leather has confined it to the world of fashion and more specifically leather goods. It can be found on handbags, purses, backpacks, bags and wallets.
The most famous brands today to have used Vachetta leather are Coach, and of course Louis Vuitton which has greatly contributed to the fame of this type of leather.
Its unique softness makes it a sought-after material, especially for the areas most often in contact with the hands or body, i.e. straps, handles and trimmings. It is also sometimes used to accentuate certain parts of the bag, or to give it a luxurious look.
Its use tends to spread in recent years on other leather pieces, whether belts, sneakers or sometimes even furniture pieces. There is no limit to its use, cowhide can be dyed, worked, embossed and their thinness makes them easy to sew.
How to Care for Vachetta Leather?
Before diving into the maintenance of Vachetta leather, we feel it is important to mention that caring for a leather article is essential, regardless of its nature. It improves its durability over time while preserving its natural qualities and its original appearance.
Leather is a natural material, keeping it clean and dry protects it from the development of mold or mildew, while nourishing it prevents your leather from drying out and potentially cracking.
📷 Credit: Trenton & Heath's Youtube Channel
Why do you need to care for Vachetta leather?
Leathers respond differently to products, depending on their origins, treatments, and finishes, which is why we advise you to always go step by step, with caution, especially with sensitive and untreated leathers like Vachetta leather.
Made from the skin of young cows, this leather is strong and durable and will easily retain its properties over time. However, its unfinished aspect makes it sensitive to natural conditions, but also to the types of cleaners used and to its storage conditions.
Without a finish, the leather will be directly confronted with changes in temperature, humidity and light, which is why, even if this exposure contributes to the development of the patina, it is necessary to remain vigilant.
Does Vachetta Leather Scratch Easily?
Because Vachetta is thin and soft, it tends to scratch more easily than other leathers. Its lack of treatment and finishing leaves the "skin" bare and does not provide any additional protection. As a result, the various marks of daily use can be seen, whether it be scratches or traces of rubbing/friction too important.
But this is an aspect that is often sought after with Vachetta. Indeed, buyers like to see the patina develop. Traces of everyday life contribute to this. As the surface becomes darker over time, these will fade somewhat while providing an aged and authentic look to your product. The more you wear your accessory, the more beautiful and unique it will become.
Is Vachetta Leather Durable?
Just because Vachetta leather marks easily doesn't mean it's any less tough and durable. This is often a misperception. The fact that it is untreated allows the hide, and therefore the leather, to retain its natural characteristics, whether it be its suppleness or strength, more effectively and permanently than other types of leather.
The proof is in the pudding, it's a leather used for objects that face repeated assaults, whether it's bags, purses or backpacks. We put them everywhere, they sometimes rub against various surfaces and are often confronted with the elements, whether it's rain, sun, changes in temperature or humidity... Has Louis Vuitton changed its hobbyhorse for all that? No, because Vachetta leather is remarkably resistant.
How to Care for Vachetta leather?
Untreated leather requires continuous care. While maintenance is required for all leather objects, Vachetta leather requires special attention. Be careful, we do not tell you to wash it daily, but when you do, we advise you to be meticulous. It will give you a good return!
1. Be Vigilant on a Daily Basis
It is often said that prevention is better than cure, right? Well, for your Vachetta leather item, it is exactly the same. Taking care of it in everyday life will greatly facilitate its maintenance.
For example, avoid touching your bag, at least its leather parts, when your hands are dirty or full of grease. The grease will quickly soak into the leather and darken it, but only on the touched areas, giving the leather an unpleasant and dirty look. Be sure to wash your hands after eating your favorite burger or applying sunscreen.
Similarly, when you're out and about, make sure you don't put your bag anywhere. We're not telling you anything new when we say that the ground is not a clean surface and can often be covered in dirt. But this is also the case for other surfaces that we don't immediately think of: table, desk, bench, etc.
When not in use, store your vachetta leather in a dry, ventilated place, away from sunlight and heat sources and if possible in a dust bag. This will maximize its durability while minimizing its care needs. Be careful not to put it in a garbage bag or sealed bag, as leather is a natural material, it also needs to breathe to keep its natural properties. Otherwise it could dry out and crack or accumulate moisture and develop mould.
2. How to Remove Traces of Dust on Vachetta leather?
Before we get down to the actual care, we recommend that you remove all dust and residue from your bag. This can be hair, pollen, or dust.
For this we recommend you use wipes (unscented, chemicals can damage the leather), or a micro-fiber cloth to capture all impurities.
Now your bag is ready for its treatment. This one can differ according to the origin of the impurity to be treated, that's why we will examine them all.
3. How to Remove Water Marks on Vachetta leather?
This is one of the most common problems if you have cowhide shoes, but can apply to bags if you expose them to rain for too long for example. Leather being naturally porous, it easily absorbs liquids that come in contact with its surface.
To avoid this, there are not 1000 solutions. While it is recommended to treat your leather as little as possible, if you are often confronted with heavy rain or wet surfaces, we advise you to apply a special leather waterproofing agent on the surface.
So yes, waterproofing clogs the pores of the leather and will decrease its ability to breathe and therefore may compromise its longevity. It's a trade-off you have to make and it should depend on your personal use.
Be sure to remove all dust and let your bag air dry completely before applying the waterproofing. If you have shoes, place shoe trees or newspaper inside them during the entire drying process to allow moisture to evacuate from inside the shoe.
Regarding the type of waterproofing, it can be a spray or a cream. Make sure it is specialized for leathers and always read the reviews.
If you have water stains that are present on your bag, you can use unscented wipes to dab the area in question. We don't recommend rubbing it, as this could damage the leather.
Next, use a colorless leather conditioner. Special conditioners for Vachetta leather exist and are obviously recommended, but if you have a good quality leather conditioner at home, don't hesitate to test it.
As you moisturize your skin to make it softer, you must moisturize the leather. This will prevent it from drying out and cracking while nourishing it. This process should be enough to cover the water marks.
4. How to Remove Stains on Vachetta leather?
If you see stains appear on your leather and they are not due to water, it is because it has absorbed something else. It could be cream residue, coffee stains, alcohol stains, dye from your clothes that has rubbed off on the leather or even sweat. As we said before, leather is a sponge and absorbs everything.
When you notice the stain, you must first let it dry. This will avoid spreading it. Then, it is up to you to judge if it is recent or not, consequent or not to adopt the good gestures.
If it is small and recent, dabbing it gently with a soft cloth slightly soaked in warm water, or with a wipe should be enough. Be careful not to soak the cloth too much, as too much water can stain the leather (we don't teach you anything at this point). You have to find the right balance, and with experience, you will find the right dosage, don't worry. It is better to start with a little water than too much. If you don't use enough water, you will only risk not removing the impurities.
If the traces are still present, you have three solutions:
- get some "magic eraser", a melamine foam to apply with a little warm water on the stain. You can also use saddle soap, which has been used for centuries by horsemen and which penetrates more deeply into the leather
- take your bag to a specialist who may be able to solve the problem with more specialized products
- leave the stain and consider it as a mark, or even better, an heritage of your life together. A little reverse marketing never hurts and the stain will fade with time in any case.
📷 Credit: Ash XL Reviews's Youtube Channel
5. How to Remove Scratches on Vachetta leather?
Concerning the scratches, we have two schools of thought: those who consider that the scratch is a normal trace of the bag's life and participates in the process of patina that embellishes the product over time and those who wish to preserve the original aspect of the bag as long as possible.
We are clearly part of the first team, and this for 2 reasons. First, we believe that each object should be unique and that the traces reflect the shared experiences. Secondly, no matter what you do and even with the best will in the world, you will be confronted with it at some point. So why bother?
The only case that concerns us is the consistent and relatively deep scratches. It could allow water to seep in and damage a larger surface for example.
In this case, we recommend the use of a balm, Vaseline or vegetable oil, to be applied delicately on the scratch for a few days (or regularly if you have the desire and the courage). If your bag is tinted, you can apply a conditioner of the same color, which will greatly reduce the scratch.
How to Condition Vachetta Leather?
Now that we've looked at the emergency surgery steps, let's move on to the daily care of your Vachetta leather item. Once again, the untreated nature of this leather means that it needs to be cared for a little more frequently than other types of leather.
To nourish it effectively, you have several options. You can use specialized conditioners, but experience shows that applying vegetable oil or baby moisturizer works wonders. It keeps the leather soft, supple and naturally shiny.
To apply, make sure to remove all impurities from your bag with a microfiber cloth or a fragrance-free, alcohol-free wipe. Then apply the conditioner of your choice with a soft cloth in a slow, circular motion so that it penetrates the pores of the leather. If you've applied too much, don't panic. Get another soft cloth and remove the excess.
We recommend at least one treatment every 4-6 months, but this will vary depending on your lifestyle and the use of your cowhide. You are the best judge of whether it needs a little touch-up sooner than expected.
You can also apply a waterproofing agent in the form of wax or spray, but we do not recommend it. It protects your leather but changes its texture and tends to clog the pores of the material, damaging its long-term durability.
How to Store Vachetta Leather?
As with most leather objects, storage is essential for it to retain all its natural properties. Therefore, use a dust bag (not airtight) and place it in a cool, dry, airy, shady place, away from heat sources. Your leather will be able to breathe while being protected from excess humidity, heat or direct sunlight.
If you have a jacket, be sure to place it properly on a hanger to avoid any distortion. This is also the case for shoes, so don't hesitate to use shoe trees or newspaper.
Vachetta leather is a very high quality leather, of Italian origin and made from calf skin. Its reputation is due in part to its use by major brands, including Louis Vuitton, which have propelled it into the world of luxury leather goods.
Fine, supple, soft and untreated, Vachetta leather is incredibly robust and refined, making it one of the most sophisticated and wearable leathers. It evolves over time and, although it requires some maintenance, is remarkably durable, ensuring that it will look good for years to come.
If you want to know more about leather, discover all its history and its many alternatives, whether vegan or artificial down below.