Morocco’s leather industry

If you have been to Morocco, you may have come across a tannery or leather factory before. This is because these places are really connected to Morocco’s culture. The leather industry has existed in Morocco for thousands of years and people still work in the traditional way. So visiting an old leather factory is definitely worthwhile!

What does a genuine Moroccan leather factory look like?

The first thing you see when you walk into a Moroccan leather factory is a roofless courtyard. In this courtyard, you will see dozens of basins filled with water. These basins all have a different colour. This is because different dyes are mixed with limestone and water. The smell in a leather factory is not very pleasant. This is because there are substances in the water that can ferment. Tourists therefore often walk with a mint leaf under their nose to endure the smell.

When we visit Moroccan leather factories, we always try to just carry on and accept the smell. After all, the workers there stand in the smell all day, so we do this out of respect towards them. The people working in the leather factories are also always very friendly and welcoming, so you can always ask questions! Finally, the leather factories are often surrounded by a nice and beautiful Moroccan architecture of coloured buildings or houses.

How do they make leather in Morocco?

Moroccan leather is made from livestock from Morocco such as, cow, sheep or goat skins. The leather is first soaked in water, which is bright in the sun, until they become soft. This process usually takes about two weeks. During these two weeks, workers stir and add wheat bran and pigeon scrapings to give the leather ultimate suppleness. Then they wash and treat the hides with natural materials such as lime. Even the feet are used to soften the leather by stepping on the leather. After the hides are removed from the baths, they are dried in the sun. In the final stage, the leather is cut. You won’t get a more natural process like this!

From the leather factory to the market

Now that the leather is ready, the leather makers take it to small markets in Morocco’s big cities. Here they sell the leather pieces to people who use it to make, for example poufs, bags or slippers. But at these little markets, they are often not the only leather sellers; there are dozens more vendors. So after this, it is up to the buyers from whom they want to buy the leather. This is done based on the quality and price of the leather.

Dana Krol

Dana Krol
junior marketeer