The Retro Bag Collection

Why Vegetable Tanned Leather?

If you have been following along with our company in the last year, you know that we have gone a little – ahem – wild with new designs. We really, really like designing new products for you! We’ve come to know what a full-grain leather hide can do, embracing it’s qualities of malleability and durability. Our playful Circle Bag, laid-back Bucket Bag, and sophisticated Tri-fold Wallet are great examples of how we’ve been able to achieve style, design, and function using this incredible resource.

saddle purse

But we are dreamers and vegetable tanned leather is a whole new frontier! This robust and structured leather offers more design opportunities. The truth is that not all of the designs we want to pursue cooperate well with soft, buttery leather the way our totes and other bags do. We have been eager to develop smaller purses and carry-alls with bold architecture and vintage vibes. Vegetable tanned leather gave us exactly what we were looking for – PLG and Vegetable Tan leather is a perfect pairing!

Why Now? 

The last few years, our company has grown to include some of the most knowledgeable and skilled leather artisans in the world. When we think of our first tote, in all of its charming simplicity, we feel humbled. Our wonderful team in León has been working leather with knowing hands for generations and without them we would not be able to offer the best leather products on the market today. Period.

veg tan leather

Due to the strength and firmness of vegetable tanned leather, it requires much more patience and skill to work with. These bags can’t be flipped inside out like our totes can so the exterior seams have to be perfect and the edges carefully smoothed. The vegetable tanned artisans create each bag start to finish at the same workstation and special tools are used to make sure each bag is finely crafted. Lucky us: we now have the resources to turn our dreams into vegetable tanned reality!

What makes Vegetable tanned leather so special? A Time-honored Practice 

The method used to create vegetable tanned leather goes way back….like wayyyyyyy back. We’re talking the early days of civilization! When you think “vegetable” you might think of carrots, beets or onion skin, but actually the tannins are sourced from renewable tree bark. The hides are steeped in pools of the special tannin bath for at least 40 days! The process takes care, patience, and a mastery of the tradition. No shortcuts – just a deliberate and true leather hide.

Terrific Tannins 

Naturally-occurring tannins are bursting with of-the-earth properties. If you love the smell of pure leather, then vegetable tanned leather is for you! A pleasant, organic aroma is one of the first things you’ll notice about your vegetable tanned bag, as well as the easy-breezy neutral tone.


However, tannins have much more going on than what we can see or smell: they also have antimicrobial properties and the leather is compostable. Knowing that vegetable tanned leather is the most environmentally friendly leather available, you can easily see why we are so excited to invite the vegetable tanned leather into the PLG family.

Exponentially Unique

We’ve always sung the praises of full-grain leather because of its natural character – no two hides and no two products are exactly alike. Vegetable tanned leather takes this to a whole new level! The color that vegetable tan is able to achieve is subtle – more of a tint which allows the natural beauty of the hide to shine through. 

vegetable tanned leather

Once the bag is in your hands the real transformation begins, totally exclusive to your life. Vegetable tanned leather exists in a constant state of evolution – developing a more complex hue and sheen with each use. Trust us: you will wear this patina with pride for years to come. In the world of vegetable tanned leather, the more mature the bag, the more its beauty is celebrated – that is a world we want to be a part of! 

So without further ado, allow us to introduce Portland Leather Goods’ debut line of traditional Vegetable Tanned Leather bags! Each design features contrast wax-thread stitching, intuitive and strong magnetic closures, natural edges, and an adjustable strap.

The Original Saddle and the Square Saddle

The Original Saddle makes the perfect sidekick and includes a discreet, exterior back pocket for your smartphone. The Square Saddle is a real straight-shooter: no bells and whistles here, just the perfect little compartment to corral your daily essentials. Both bags wear the sleek PLG brand on the front flap with pride.

veg tan bag

The Astoria

Astoria is a coastal town brimming with explorer history and Victorian elegance.  Our tribute features a roomy compartment, slim interior pocket and envelope style front. Hello, darling! 

veg tan leather

The Sellwood

The Sellwood area has the feel of a small town in the big city. Our nod to this nearby neighborhood has all the charm of its namesake! This little bag will hold your wallet and sunglasses in the main compartment and smaller items in the interior pocket, so you can go from riverfront to amusement park to brewery patio in style!

sellwood bag

The Hawthorne

Hip like the neighborhood and pretty like the flower, this satchel is the most spacious of the vegetable tanned line. With its inside pocket and a subtly shaped front flap, it provides instant access to your belongings and instant style to your outfit. You’re welcome! 

hawthorne bag

We can’t wait for you to experience Vegetable Tanned leather for yourself!