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Why these three colors? Natural dyes + Mohinders leather

by Kristen Morabito |

Two natural-dyed shades have joined the Mohinders leather shoe collection—Iron-dyed black, and Oiled leather dark brown.   

A bit of backstory, below!

Why’d we take so long to add colors?

For six years the Mohinders lineup has been just one color: traditionally veg-tanned water buffalo leather. It’s made in small batches and infused with acacia tree bark and Myrobalan nut, which give its light caramel tone.

Over the years we considered adding colors, but never felt right imposing a loud or synthetic dye onto our naturally beautiful leather. The colors we chose needed to amplify the its natural beauty, not mask it.


Our requirements for new colors:

  • Dye techniques that integrate with our existing small-scale, heirloom leather tanning process and its ingredients
  • Highlighting and enhancing the leather’s natural grain and texture
  • Avoiding chemical or synthetic dyes; avoid switching to factory or chrome-tanned leather

The last year, we discovered two ways of adding natural-dyed shades that met all our criteria: Iron-Dyed Leather (deep black) and Oiled Leather (rich chocolate brown).


How does it work?

Iron-Dye

The iron dye process is magically simple. When Mohinders shoe lather is steeped in a bath of water + iron, the myrobalan present in the leather reacts with the iron for a colorfast black. We instantly loved it: the tone is soft but deep, like a perfectly aged leather jacket—plus, the dye never rubs off on your feet.

Oiled leather 

Shortly after, we found our dream leather oil by Obenauf’s. It’s made with plant-based oils, beeswax, and propolis; a few well-applied coats turn our Myrobalan leather the color of dark chocolate. This deepens the shade while letting the handmade grain and texture shine through. The result is polished and eye-catching, yet wearable (huge bonus: oiled leather is softer, meaning an easier break-in).

Both are simple, naturally-derived colors (a mineral pigment and plant-based oils). Nothing weird or synthetic, and no hard-to-pronounce chemicals. The shades last really well over time, and can be re-conditioned at home if they lighten with wear.