Billy Tannery's signature leather is our high quality vegetable-tanned goat leather. It’s where we began, and it’s what we’re known for. But we’ve also recently branched into deer leather products.
We don’t like to compare them – they are both equally beautiful materials, but they have different qualities. This handy guide gets into the specifics of both – durability, softness, style, and uses. You’ll soon see why we can’t choose a favourite.
Our decision to extend our range with deer leather products was a natural next step for us. Driven by our quest for sustainable materials, we became aware of the rising numbers of deer population. This has been partly fuelled by the pandemic, and combined with the lack of demand for venison during restaurant closures. This has led to the need for deer culling in order to control the population.
Although things are thankfully returning to normal for the food industry, the resulting surplus of hides was destined for landfill. At Billy Tannery we pride ourselves on creating beautiful and sustainable products from waste-stream skins – and so our deer skin range was born.
Whilst any product you buy from Billy Tannery is a sustainable, eco-friendly and quality product, there are differences between goat and deer leather.
Deer skin is not mass-produced, and is a relatively rare material. That rarity, combined with its superior softness and beauty means you are more likely to find it used for high-end, high quality products.
It’s softness makes it ideal for luxurious products, requiring next to no breaking in. Its comfort levels and supple stretch make it an especially great choice for shoes, bags and clothing. It has an especially tactile, smooth finish that exudes quality in an understated way. Our Parkland deer leather range includes a suede finish that is butter-soft and lets the texture do the talking.
For such a luxe material, it’s surprisingly durable. With a little care, even products that are made for everyday use – such as our Parkland backpack – will be a reliable staple in your wardrobe for years to come.
Goat skin is also a very soft leather. Far softer, thinner and lighter than cowhide, for example. Both goat and deer offer soft, flexible finishes. Goat leather is renowned for its durability and works as well on small-scale accessories as it does on homewares, making it a natural choice for anything from rugs, wallets, weekend bags and boots. Our signature goat leather chef’s aprons are used in professional kitchens and are built to withstand the pressures of daily use.
Perhaps what sets apart the appearance of goat leather is the distinctive pattern. Any quality leather should be full grain. Avoid mass-produced leather which may be bonded with other fabric fibres. When it comes to goat hide, full grain leather has an almost pebbled effect from the coarse goat hair. It’s natural, unique and beautiful.
As durable as they are, both goat and deer leather products need to be treated with a little TLC to keep them at their best. We create our products to last, and with the right care, you can get many years, maybe even generations of use.
Deer skin products can be treated with water repellents and specialist cleansers to protect them from the weather. Goat leather in particular is very durable and weather resistant – goats are hardy creatures, after all – but products still require an element of waterproofing and leather care for best results.
For our deer leather, we use both UK Red and Fallow deer hides. The skins we use are fully traceable, so we know exactly where it comes from. Like our goat leather, they are waste products from the food industry – in this case, some of the UK’s finest venison producers.
At Billy Tannery we use vegetable tanning to treat all our leathers. We have our own UK tannery, using mimosa bark to create rich colours and leathers that will only improve with age – gaining a unique patina with every use. We’re so proud of our eco-conscious micro-tannery. Yes, it’s more expensive, and it’s time-consuming, but it is absolutely worth it.
We believe you get out what you put in, and that attention to quality and ethics is reflected in every stage of our production. It’s what gives high-quality, consistent results across our full range of products – whichever leather you choose. When you buy from Billy Tannery, you can be confident that your purchase has been sustainably and ethically made, and will fit beautifully into your lifestyle for many years to come.