According to information given by a US sales representative of the famous tannery J. Rendenbach – most known for its oak bark tanned leather soles – the German company is to close the tannery. More info will follow later on, but here is a summary of what is known.


J. Rendenbach is one of the most famous tanneries in the world, making oak bark tanned leather soles, heels and shoe components. Its J.R. logo is synonymous with hard wearing sole leather, where the company’s fame boomed after the book by László Vass – Handmade Shoes for Men – and now shoe brands and cobblers love to show off the stamp on the bottom of the shoes as a sign of quality. It’s a traditional tannery where hides stay in ground pits with oak bark and other natural tannins for about a year, it’s time consuming but gives excellent results. The company has been around since 1871, located in the middle of the city Trier in the western parts of Germany, still owned by the Rendenbach family, with Hanns Rendenbach running things.

Now, like a bolt from the blue for many, an American sales representative for J.R. yesterday wrote the following in a few Facebook groups for cobblers and shoe industry folks in the US: “For those who haven’t yet heard, I am sad to announce that the J.R. tannery will be closing. Hanns and I have truly appreciated your support and passion for the J.R. Rendenbach products. I have thoroughly enjoyed working for this company and will miss the amazing products & people I have come to know through the years.”


A shoe newly resoled with a J.R. sole.

Reactions showed sadness, chock and surprise. Immediately a lot of speculations aroused. Shoegazing has been in contact with J.R. (who currently hasn’t given any comments) and with the US sales representative, who promise that more info about the situation will be given later on. There’s many reasons that it has come to this, a development during many years with rubber soles taking over also in premium footwear, and along that a pandemic that hit this industry hard, plus many other parts, as well as reasons for why they seem to not look at selling the business. It’s a tough time for Hanns Rendenbach and all people involved with the company.

Shoegazing expects to follow-up with more information later on, when things are more clear and after I’ve hopefully have had the possibility to talk more in-depth with Hanns Rendenbach and J.R. representatives. As we all know, things can change, but as it looks now the amazing products from J. Rendenbach will soon not be available on the market anymore, which surely is a sad thing for this industry.


J. Rendenbach soles. Picture: Cobbler’s Plus (Top picture: Potter & Sons)

If you’re interested in seeing more from the tannery, check out this factory visit by Kirby Allison.


UPDATE OCTOBER 15: J.R. has now sent out an official e-mail confirming that the tannery will end its business in the beginning of next year. Some lines are already closed, but they do still accept new orders, according to info they will take orders until January (changed now, see below).

UPDATE OCTOBER 27: Since so many customers and especially wholesalers have placed huge orders since the news about the tannery closing went public, they have now stopped taking new orders, and will produce the orders placed now, and then plan is to close down production first half of next year.


The e-mail sent out from Rendenbach. Picture: Kevin Rowley / Facebook Footwear Makers Forum