Leather is made of animal hide that has been tanned. It is one of the oldest inventions by humans and has been used in many different applications. It is used today mainly in clothing, including belts, shoes and purses.
There are many types of leather. The type of skin used, the tanning methods and the manufacturing method can all affect the type. Most leathers are made from cowhide, although other hides such as those from kangaroos, eel and ostriches are used in fashion.
The Tanning Process
Tanning can be done with vegetable-based products that use tannin or other vegetable matter, such as tree bark. A chemical mixture is used to achieve the desired colour.
Aluminium salts are used to make alum-tanned leather. Although it is less flexible than vegetable tanned skins and can be dyed in lighter colors than vegetable-tanning, it can still be very soft. Both vegetable- and alum-tanned leathers will rot in water.
The new technique of tanning leather with Chromium salt tanning leaves it soft and water-resistant.
Buckskin or brain-tanned leather is washable and much softer than regular leather. This process takes longer to complete and is therefore more expensive than the ones described.
Different types of hides
Leather made from the finest hides is full-grain. This leather is used in the best products. This leather can be used in the finest products.
To hide defects in the leather, top-grain leather is sanded one side and given artificial grain. Fuzzy top-grain leather can be found on the other side. Because it is made from animal hides, suede is fuzzy on both ends.
Patent leather is very shiny and smooth. It is created by covering the leather with plastic.
Napa leather is well-known for its softness because it is made from the hides of calf fetus.
The fashion industry is most familiar with Italian leather, particularly those made in Milan and Florence. High quality dyes and chemicals are only used on the finest hides to create the leather that is used in the fashion industry.
Look out for stamped markings on leather products that indicate full-grain leather, top-grain leather, or both. You can tell how your handbag, purse, or belt will feel if you buy online by knowing what type of leather it is made from.