Which satchel colour should I choose?

Choose the best colour for your Ruitertassen leather satchel.

QUESTION.

I’m planning the purchase of a Ruitertassen Heritage satchel, but I don’t know which colour to pick.
Aside colour shade, are there any differences that could potentially influence my decision?

ANSWER.

This should be a matter of taste.
However, at Ruitertassen, leather is artisanal and because of that, there is more than meets the eye.
Although these different leathers have a lot in common, there are a few differences that are worth explaining:

WHAT LEATHERS HAVE IN COMMON.

  • Thickness is around 2,8 mm.
  • Durability and overall strength.
  • Full-grain grade.
  • Vegetable-tanned, no chromes.
  • Firmness.

WHAT DIFFERENTIATES THE LEATHERS.

  • What makes them waterproof.
  • How they age.
  • How they are coloured.
  • Their texture.
  • Their provenance.

We will explain these distinctions.
Maybe one particular aspect will help you choose a colour over another.

 

BLACK LEATHER.

Provenance: This leather comes from a traditional tannery in Italy and the cows are from Europe.

Waterproof treatment: Once tanned, the leather is coated with a very thin layer of transparent varnish (on the outside only). Under light rain, water will sit on the surface so you can wipe it out easily.
Under heavy rain, humidity will find its way into the leather. Thankfully it you empty it at home and leave it to dry, it will recuperate naturally. The water cannot be trapped as the coating is only applied on one side of the leather.

Ageing: Because of the protective coating, it takes the leather a bit more time to produce its patina.
With time, the coating wears out and the leather’s surface is gradually more exposed. To maintain your leather, you will nourish it with a wax formulated for vegetable-tanned leather. From there, a unique patina will develop naturally. Its colour won’t change, rather, it’s the aspect and feel that will evolve.
With use also comes scratches. They’re not that visible on black leather, but depending on how deep they are, they can occasionally be too visible for your taste. With black leather, it is easy to tend to the scratches using a bit of black polish. With time, scratches will slightly fade as well.

Texture: Up to 2016, our black leather was smooth (very fine grain). Since 2017, we use a leather with a more defined grain as we find it more lively. From a distance, the difference is barely visible, up close, it makes for a more interesting texture. Leather enthusiasts will appreciate this authentic grain.
You can come across light scars, insects bites or stretch marks. If you enjoy these typical marks, bare in mind that they are usually barely visible on black leather.

Colouring process: This leather is coloured in large drums similar to those used for the tanning process.
Unlike most leather colouring methods, our process is slow but it delivers a deep, lasting and elegant colour.

 

RED LEATHER.

Provenance: Read “BLACK LEATHER”.

Waterproof treatment: Read “BLACK LEATHER”.

Ageing: Red “BLACK LEATHER”, with a distinction to make regarding scratches. These can be more visible when accidentally inflicted with a sharp object for example, and harder to mask.
They might appear rather early on, particularly around the top handle and the tuck locks: where nails move around regularly. Once has to accept these potential scratches or must be careful if the occasional scratch is undesired. With such an authentic leather, scratches are to be expected, but with time, they tend to fade.

Texture: Read “BLACK LEATHER”.

Colouring process: Read “BLACK LEATHER”.

 

NATURAL TAN LEATHER.

Provenance: The natural tan leather comes from a Belgian tannery we’ve been working with since the 30’s. The cows are from Europe.

Waterproof treatment: Read “BLACK LEATHER”.

Ageing: Like our black or red leather, the natural tan leather takes a bit more time to develop a patina (compared to our vintage brown leather). That’s because the surface is coated with a thin waterproof varnish. With time, the coating wears out and the leather’s surface is gradually more exposed. To maintain your leather, you will nourish it with a wax formulated for vegetable-tanned leather. From there, your leather will develop its unique patina. It will darken and turn to a honey type of shade. There will be nuances depending on how you wear it.

Texture: We’ve been using the same leather for decades. It is very smooth. You might come across natural marks (bites, scars…) and stretch marks that will make your satchel truly unique.

Colouring process: Weeks spent interacting with natural barks in wooden drums is how it develops this natural colour. The tannery does not use any paint or pigments on this leather.

 

‘VINTAGE’ BROWN LEATHER.

Provenance: Read “NATURAL TAN LEATHER”.

Waterproof treatment: This leather is completely different when it comes to waterproofing. This is an oiled leather, also referred to as pull-up leather. Once tanned, it is impregnated with rich protective oils. There is no coating, so it’s porous. As a result, when it rains, water can penetrate to some degree and the leather will darken eventually. Fortunately, the oil from the leather is stronger than humidity, it will repel it constantly. The leather won’t let humidity settle in so it will always dry out when given a chance away from the rain. This is the most natural waterproofing method.

Ageing: This leather will develop a beautiful patina and have a lived in look very quickly compared to other leathers. For the first few months up to a year or two, the oil will gradually dry out. The colour will lighten, until you apply some wax to nourish it. It will then darken and evolve in something unique.
This leather is particularly expressive, which makes for an interesting experience as an owner. Light scratches are lighter in colour and can be rubbed off easily with your finger. Deep scratches can occur accidentally but they’ll become less noticeable as time passes.
Please note that this leather can stain while it’s new. When you receive your satchel, the leather has been freshly impregnated with oils and it will in some cases take a few months before it settles completely.
In many cases, it doesn’t stain, but keep an eye on your light-coloured clothing.

Texture: This leather is smooth and feels very natural. You will encounter occasional stretch marks, and on closer inspection, some old scars or insects bites.

Colouring process: This leather gets a natural light brown colour from the tanning process. Once it’s oiled, it becomes darker. The coloration results from the artisanal preparation of the leather. There is no colouring process such as painting or pigmentation. You could almost say that the end result is accidental, although the choice of tannins allows the tannery to obtain a pleasant shade of brown.
A notable particularity is that the shade varies from one piece of leather to the other. You could have a pocket, handle or front flap slightly darker, or lighter, than the rest of satchel. Sometimes the satchel is uniform. This is something we cannot control because of the artisanal nature of that particular leather.
With time, the shade of your satchel will evolve, getting lighter coloured first as the oils dry up, then darker again when you nourish it.

 

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