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Vegetarian Leather

When you think of leather, vegetables don’t readily come to mind. Tanning, the process to turn animal skin into leather, commonly relies on chemicals to get the job done. The Richmond-based Rider Boot Shop family has left the chemicals behind and instead opted to use vegetable-tanned leather in the creation of the brand’s boots.

Vegetable tanning takes longer, sometimes more than three months. The process uses tree barks, fish oil and other plants to draw out water from the animal hide. This is how leather has been tanned since the dawn of civilization. Leathers that use this process “come off more rustic and hardy and the colors change over time,” says company founder Ron Rider.

There are a few limitations that come with the switch, says Rider. For starters, the brand will no longer carry “fantasy colors” such as pink, blue and red. The online shop and brick-and-mortar store at 18 W. Broad St. in Jackson Ward will carry a larger collection of earth tones. Another drawback for some, …

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