Why Leather? How KMM & Co. Sources the Materials We Use

Leather at the KMM & Co. studio

At KMM & Co., we want to craft timeless leather goods that get better with age and wear. In order to create heirloom-quality goods, we need to use materials that will last a lifetime, and beyond, with proper care. That's why we only use 100% full-grain leather, which we source from tanneries located in the United States and elsewhere. 

Here's what you need to know about how we source our materials, and our philosophy on the importance of sustainability in our supply chain.

We order as much of our leather as possible from American tanneries. We do this not only because we want to support other businesses that produce things in America, but also because of the labor laws and environmental protection regulations with which businesses have to comply to operate in the U.S. KMM & Co. does not work with suppliers located in regions with a high risk of labor violations, with lax environmental-protection standards, or with low rates of compliance with environmental regulations. 

One of our primary concerns for our supply chain is environmental sustainability. All of the leather that we purchase is sourced as a byproduct of the meat and dairy industry that would otherwise go to waste. We make a conscious decision to purchase and use hides that are not perfect, and it's important to us to use every part of a hide, even if it has flaws.  You can see that principle in practice at our studio. We've opted to make products out of less-than-perfect sides -- our branded and scratch-and-dent totes -- and to use pieces of scrap leather to make both small accessories and components of our larger items. 

Unfortunately, because all of the leather that we use is sourced as a byproduct of the meat industry, we can't guarantee that the animals in our supply chain are treated in a specific way or claim that the supply chain is cruelty-free. To the best of our knowledge, no one produces truly cruelty-free cow leather, and brands making that claim are doing so disingenuously.

That's why some consumers prefer to buy "vegan leather" alternatives instead of leather. We respect that decision, and we would be happy to point you in the direction of brands offering vegan leather goods if you need help finding them.

We do not make any KMM & Co. goods with "vegan leather" or other leather alternatives due to our sustainability philosophy. Most synthetic leathers are made of petrochemicals -- such as polyvinyl chloride and polyurethane -- and are essentially plastic.

Leather is extremely durable if cared for properly, and can stand up to years of heavy use that plastic leather alternatives could not sustain. Leather also improves with age and use -- showing wear and acquiring a unique patina -- while "vegan leather" does not. Additionally, leather is biodegradable, while leather alternatives made of polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride will take hundreds of years to break down in a landfill. 

None of the options are without tradeoffs. There are labor issues, environmental concerns, and ethical questions to consider whether you choose to shop for a leather bag or a "vegan leather" bag. If you have additional questions or need help finding more resources, please reach out to our team at hello@kmmco.com. We would be happy to help, regardless of whether or not you choose to purchase KMM & Co. products.

Reach out to our team at hello@kmmco.com if you have questions, would like recommendations of brands that make vegan leather goods, or need help finding more resources. If you want to join KMM & Co. in making sure that even imperfect hides get used to make heirloom-quality leather goods, check out our one-of-a-kind collection to shop branded and scratch-and-dent totes. 

June 12, 2019 — Jess Bolluyt