Leather Bags, Made in Chicago

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At Kaehler 1920, leather is the most important material that we use. As a brand we are locationally blessed in working with the Horween Leather Company. Frequent tannery visits, Horween’s generosity of time and willingness to work in smaller production runs allow us to feature...Read more: Neighbors


Early photos of the original Kaehler store and the current Horween Tannery.


In the mid-1800s Chicagos’s cattle trade was thriving and the city was well poised for tanneries to flourish. Chicago’s proximity to cattle raising areas, its massive railroad system connecting it to the east coast and a culture for technological innovation set the stage for Chicago to be dubbed...Read More: History

1927 Chicago Skyline © SummertownPrints

Vegetable Tanned Leather

"Vegetable tanned leather is the original method of leather tanning. Ingeniously, early man figured out that he could preserve animal hides. Steeping the hide in water and tannins (derived from tree bark) would transform the hide from perishable byproduct to a durable good....Read more: Vegetable Tanned

Chrome Tanned Leather

The Chrome Tan process is one that uses chromium salts to stabilize the hide. This process involves 24 to 36 hours of aggressive washing in a spinning drum. Chrome tanning is a shorter process than vegetable tanning and yields a leather with very different but useful qualities...Read more: Chrome Tanned Leather


Understanding the concept of dyed vs pigmented leather is important when evaluating leather. Dyes, which are water soluble, add color by bonding with the hide during the tanning process. Dyed leathers highlight the natural qualities of the hide...Read More: Aniline

The Retan

The ‘retan’ is a crucial step in the tanning process, one that separates good from great leather. When leather is initially tanned it is stabilized, the hide can now be treated a number of different ways. The retan takes the leather in a new direction with the addition of oils, waxes and other extracts...Read More: The Retan