Vegetable Tanned Leather: The Color of Sustainability

"What's up with that color?"

"Vegetable-tanned" means just that. Tanned using vegetable matter. In our specific case, tree bark tannins. This is the ancient, traditional method of tanning leather. We went for pure and clean, a product of nature. On a deeper level, this means that if you bury a pair of Matriarch shoes in the ground, the leather will completely decompose after about 100 years without leaching chemicals into the environment.


"Is it vegetarian? Vegan?"

Leather is leather, and ours comes from Portuguese, Spanish, and/or German cows.


"Why is vegetable-tanned leather so special?"

We love veggie tan because to us it is the most pure expression of what leather is. One of our favorite features of veggie tan is that over time it will develop a rich patina. This means that the more you wear your shoes, the more custom to you they get! If you leave them in strong sunlight or get skin oils (or other oils) on them, the color will deepen and darken. We love honesty in our materials.


"What is the difference between veggie tan and the leather on my current shoes?"

Know this when you encounter leather items that seem ‘affordable’: most leather used commercially is NOT vegetable tanned leather, precisely because it is so expensive. Usually what you’re seeing is chrome-tanned leather. Chrome-tanned leather is dangerous and toxic to produce-- and then consider that we put that right over the skin of our feet! That is why we did the only logical thing: used veggie tan in ALL parts of our shoes, especially the lining.

Many commercial leathers are processed so heavily that their beautiful surfaces end up covered with paints or plastic treatments. The color of our leather is actually just natural coloring from organic matter like tree bark tannins and they are finished with a basic wax. Different tannins result in different colors, so actually veggie tan can range from even a deep green hue to that on our footwear.

With industrial design as our background, we are huge fans of letting materials speak for themselves: hence, the veggie tan in the most natural state possible.


"What’s that sticker all about? I see this in all shoes."

This graphic indicates that all the key elements of the shoe are made of leather: the upper (the part that goes over your foot), the lining (the lighter color leather inside, which is super soft and sits directly next to your foot, and the sole.


Help us help the community - our pledge to help during the COVID-19 crisis

From today until May 15, 100% of proceeds from T-Shirt, Socks, and Pins sales will go to support fellow Footwear Industry members and LGBTQ folks in need during this time of uncertainty.

25% of proceeds from Footwear sales will also go to support these brands:

The Two Ten Footwear Foundation - supporting all members of the Footwear community at all times, and especially now ( - a NYC-based, leading LGBTQ+ media site (

Sonntags Club - a Berlin-based LGBTQ+ community space (