Retanning leather: process and products

What is retanning leather?

When turning a hide into leather, retanning is the process in leather production that follows the tanning process. During retanning, the leather is treated with (re)tanning agents, oils, and other chemicals to achieve desired properties such as fullness and softness, durability, grain tightness and resistance to water and other elements. Retanning helps to improve the overall quality and appearance of the leather, making it suitable for various applications such as upholstery, footwear, garments, and leather accessories.

The retanning process

Retanning plays a crucial role in transforming raw hides into high-quality leather products that meet the specific requirements of manufacturers and consumers. The steps involved in retanning leather can vary depending on these requirements of the leather and the desired end product. Retanning leather for footwear will require different steps and chemicals than, for example, when the leather is going to be used for car interiors. Retanning is part of the wet end process.

Steps in leather production

From hide to leather good: what are the steps in the leather value chain? These are the 5 key processes in the leather production cycle:

  1. Preservation
    A process that temporarily allows transport and storage of the raw material.
  2. Preparatory operations (beamhouse)
    Hides are cleaned from dirt, blood, salt and hair, the collagen structure is opened, they are fleshed, processed with base chemicals and split into grains and splits.
  3. Tanning
    In tanning the collagen of the hides is transformed into leather. Herewith the collagen of the hide is protected to microorganisms.
    Different tanning agents can be used, e.g. Zeology, chrome, glutardialdehyde (GDA), synthetic products or vegetable extracts.
  4. Post-tannage / Retanning or Wet-end
    In wet-end the leather is given its final properties by the application of syntans, fatliquors and dyes.
  5. Finishing
    The ‘finishing’ touch of leather making. A final film of several layers is used to protect the leather, increase its performance and to create fashionable colors and patterns.

The infographic below gives a clear overview of the whole leather supply chain, from live stock to consumer.

Retanning products

Every hide, every application requires a different type of retanning agent, depending on the desired grain tightness, fullness and roundness of the finished leather. Our portfolio of retanning agents covers all applications and markets. From shoes, leather accessories and garments to automotive, furniture and waterproof leather.

Our ranges:

All retanning agents

Renewability range

Discover our bio-based solutions

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