As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, all of Sonder Leather’s products are made from vegetable-tanned Kangaroo leather. To a lot of people, this may seem like a bit of a dicey choice at first - given Australia’s fondness for the bouncy marsupials - but there is good reasoning behind the decision.
A tan card wallet in the wild
Kangaroo leather has a unique combination of properties that make it one of the world’s most highly-sought (and valuable) leathers:
I’m an Engineering graduate, so I get excited by the fact that Kangaroo leather is weight-for-weight the strongest leather on Earth. This strength is largely attributed to the Kangaroo’s harsh climate, which has resulted in highly-uniform collagen fibre bundles within the hide. What’s more, there are no sweat glands nor arrector-pili muscles present, meaning there are no areas for stress to concentrate.
Nicely uniform fibre bundles on a roll of kangaroo leather
What this means for you, is that the leather used to make your Sonder Leather wallet has 10 times the tensile strength and tear resistance of traditional cow leather. This, combined with meticulous construction is why they’re guaranteed for life.
Kangaroo are an incredibly abundant species, with the current population standing around 25 million. In fact, they are so abundant that in many areas, overpopulation of kangaroos is now reducing habitat quality for other native species.
High densities of kangaroos reduce vegetation cover, making small native animals more vulnerable to predation by foxes and cats. Unfortunately, the animals negatively affected are some of the most endangered of Australia’s native species, including the Eastern Barred Bandicoot.
This little bloke doesn't get along well with kangaroos, or foxes.
To prevent this overpopulation, four species of kangaroo are harvested under strict management plans approved by the Australian government. To ensure this harvest is sustainable, the quota is adjusted each year so that if the population begins to decline, so to does the harvest quota.
As a result of extensive research and planning by CSIRO and the Australian government, kangaroo leather is now the world’s first and only sustainable leather.
There’s more than one road to Timbuktu, and there’s more than one way to tan leather. If you’re interested, you can read about it in detail in my blog post, but it basically boils down to two main methods; vegetable-tanning and chrome-tanning.
Chrome-tanning is an automated process that can produce leather in a 24-hour period. Chrome-tan is cheap to buy, and is typically used for low priced fast-fashion items that are destined for the landfill.
A chrome-tanning facility in Kanpur, India.
Vegetable-tanning on the other hand, is a traditional process that uses tannins found in tree bark to produce leather. This process can take up to a month, and consequently, vegetable-tanned leather is normally around double the price of chrome-tan.
Traditional vegetable tanning at the Böle Tannery in Sweden
The thing that makes vegetable-tanned leather worth it's weight in gold is its ability to develop a patina. During its lifetime, your Sonder Leather wallet will darken and grow richer in colour. The cool thing is; once it’s worn in, your wallet will look completely different to everyone else's.
Thanks for reading. Hopefully this has given you a bit of insight into why I’ve chosen to use kangaroo leather. If you’d like to have a look at the range of products, you can do so here.