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Chrome or vegetable tanned ?

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by guyt, Feb 9, 2007.

  1. guyt

    guyt New in Town

    Hi all,
    I posted the following question on the Vintage Jacket forum board and was wondering if anyone here may have some input.

    I own an Aero moto jacket in FQHH and I am interested in lighter weight steerhide Aero Halfback. Amanda at Aero informed me that they currently use a chrome tanned leather for their jackets, but that they still had some vegetable tanned Alaskan steer hide. She wrote “our new steerhide is chrome tanned and very heavy and waterproof as opposed to the 2004 Alaskan steer which is veg tanned and slightly more supple”. I was always under the impression that vegetable tanned was a more time consuming and expensive process which results in more durable leather. I was committed to veg tanned but her comments have me confused. Has anyone had any experience with either of these choices? Any opinions on which makes a better jacket.
    Thanks, GT
  2. Naphtali

    Naphtali Practically Family

    Boot makers and best-quality shoe manufacturers use vegetable tanned leather. The reason, I am told, is vegetable tanned leather maintains its flexibility without cracking much longer.

    Special Note: leather treatment for vegetable tanned, and chrome tanned, leather is different. Again, I have been told, getting the treatment wrong reduces the life of the leather significantly.

    Hope this helps.
  3. A2_Junkie

    A2_Junkie New in Town

    Depends what you like

    For me, the difference between the veg and the chrome is the surface appearance of the leather. The chrome seems to have more of a vinyl-like surface whereas the veg seems more naked. If the chrome gets wet, the water tends to bead up and roll off. Veg tends to absorb the water more. However, I think the veg tanned leathers break in better. I have a chrome jacket that was regularly worn for 13 years and it hardly broke in at all. I've got veg tanned jacket that is 9 months old and it's breaking in rather nicely and has a nice texture. Think of a baseball mit vs. a car seat.

    If I were choosing a surface for durability (rain repelant, easy to wipe off bug guts, etc), I'd go for chrome. If I wanted a jacket with a soul that I'd be happy to hand down to my grandkids, then I'd go veg and just invest in mink oil.

  4. Peacoat

    Peacoat Call Me a Cab

    Good points, Peter. I chose the chrome tanned Highwayman because of the water repellent qualities. Had I not wanted it for a working motorcycle jacket, I may have chosen the veg. tanned version.
  5. I used to work for Florsheim Shoes, and most all of their goat skin leather was chrome tanned, giving it a weird green tone whenever the surface of the leather was broken or cut to expose the interior. Are chrome tanned jackets the same?
    I have heard that vegetable tanned leathers are stiffer initially,such as my U.S. Authentic horse, but the finish wears to a lighter version and is not tinted that odd chrome green color.
  6. The Wingnut

    The Wingnut One Too Many

    Chrome tanning does seem to have an odd effect on the leather under the facing. Green, gray, sometimes even a pale blue is the end result.
  7. Peacoat

    Peacoat Call Me a Cab

    All of the current Aero HH jackets are chrome tanned, so surely someone out there has experienced this effect, if still occurs. I would be interested in the answer as my recently ordered Aero is chrome tanned.
  8. Peacoat

    Peacoat Call Me a Cab

    I asked Mark Moye, Aero USA Rep, about this problem with chrome tanning and Aero jackets, and his response is below:

    "Uh, that would be a big "NO" Ron--nothing funny looking about ours as they age.
    There's another company here in the US who uses a Russet color chrome-tanned horsehide, that when it wears, a blackish base coat to the hides appear.
    Look at the back of the samples I sent you--scratch 'em, mash 'em, scuff 'em up and you'll get an idea. Now, that said, our black does have a black base coat but it's suppose to."

    I would like to hear if anyone else out there has experienced this problem.
  9. Raymundo

    Raymundo One of the Regulars

    The company being referred to is Gibson and Barnes. I have an older russet brown horsehide jacket from them that I bought used and it does not show any black color coming thru anywhere and it is fully broken in, very soft, and a nice grain and creases are showing thru in the worn areas. It's my favorite jacket. Someone posted recently about buying a jacket from G&B that had black showing on a collar tip or somewhere and G&B offered to send a replacement. This was the only time I ever heard of this problem. Flaws can and do happen from time to time with all jacket manufacturers, even Aero.

  10. Swoosed

    Swoosed One of the Regulars

    That was me. It was a historical russet horsehide and I sent it back. they said it was normal. I got a refund. I dont know what the tanning method was, but it was not wearing right. I've had naked cowhide jackets, thick bike jackets, all my life and they don't wear like that. It looked like the pigment color didn't match the dye. The Aeros look better though.
    I got a US authentic and it is doing the same thing, but not in the same way. After the topcoat wears off, there is a blackish dark brown layer, which subsequently also wears out and the lighter under coat comes through.
    I have heard that USA is Veg tanned, but I doubt it.
  11. DJS Press

    DJS Press One of the Regulars

    I'm no expert by any means, but my research seems to show that chrome tanning tends to last longer than vegetable tanned. I understand that veg tanned articles made for the military in WWII tended to rot in jungle fighting, while the chrome-tanned didn't rot nearly so fast.

    Since most of us do very little jungle fighting these days, I don't know if that reasoning would still apply today. Also, I don't have enough experience to say that one method or the other was easier to break-in, etc.
  12. Peacoat

    Peacoat Call Me a Cab

    When I get my chrome tanned Aero, I will report on the stiffness, etc. as compared to the vegetable tanned jackets. The last heavy motorcycle jacket I got was broken in from almost the beginning and isn't chrome tanned. Unfortunately, it isn't water repellent. I'm hoping the chrome tanned jacket sheds the water, as I sometimes get caught in the rain on trips. Not a good experience, even when the temperature is in the 70s.
  13. What color and what type of leather is it?
    I have a russet horse hide U.S. Authentic that is the same color underneath the finish. I know it for a fact because I removed a large area of the finish with acetone, then sand paper to prepare it for nose art. Nothing under there except the slightly lighter color russet.
  14. PADDY

    PADDY I'll Lock Up Bartender


    Much more character as it wears, if you like that 'beat up' worn in vintage look.

    Does soak up the water in a down-pour, but so what!
  15. A2_Junkie

    A2_Junkie New in Town

    Veg for style

    I agree with Paddy. If you've fallen in love with the look of a vintage flight jacket, then you're unwittingly a fan of the veg aniline process. If what you want is the wrinkled, burnished, broken-in leather look, then you don't want chrome. Chrome stays shiney and maintains a coating on the leather - untill it chips off or wears in the high spots.

    The veg will stain easier and will absorb oils, etc. The chrome will remain relatively impervious. I'd go with chrome if I wanted a utility jacket that would allow me to wipe things off easily.

  16. Recent change?

    Is this something new for Aero HH utility jackets??? I'm pretty sure that all of mine (1/2 doz or so)are veg tanned! Big difference in finish between the two!
    Also,I've seen pics of some LostWorlds heavily finished Chrome tanned A2 jackets wearing off to a dark base.
    Many Chrome tanned HH jackets do have that heavy painted on appearance. However,I would bet that Aero has found a better way around this...surely.
  17. Correction

    I just found out that all Aero HH utility jackets have always been Chromed tanned! My mistake. However..the finish is quite unique compared to any others,IMO..and wears-in beautifully.
  18. Peacoat

    Peacoat Call Me a Cab

    Here is a pic of a well broken in chrome tanned Aero HH. Looks pretty good to me.

  19. Cool pockets...deep...and looks like there's a warming slit in each. Not Air Corps reg, but hansome and practical. Something a hotshot pilot might have had made up.
  20. greyhound68

    greyhound68 A-List Customer

    Here is the look of a analine veg RMNZ A2 after about four years wear

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