Leather first came into being when mankind discovered the fact that various animal skins and hides can be used to create a sturdy fabric. It gained the status of prized possession from Ancient Egypt and it continues to fascinate the newer designer wear-lover generation. So far, leather is known to be the oldest fabric ever used by man to fulfil basic needs like clothing and shelter. Fast-forward to 2020, the raw-looking leather fabric is now used to make just about everything. Right from your shoes to furniture to bags to even mobile covers – Most of your essentials can have smooth leather skin. However soft and smooth, leather still comes with a bit of sturdiness that ensures lasting durability. Considering that leather is extracted from wild animals, it has become one of the most-trusted material by men for making leather shoes, tools, clothes, bags, accessories etc products that have to go through a certain degree of wear and tear. Right from your high-end luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Hermes to the big ready-to-wear stores, leather is used to create the most beautiful and expensive luxury goods.
There are different uses of each type of leather since it is extracted out of over 20 different animal hides. If you come to think of it, calfskin leather would be quite different from sheep or pigskin leather. This implies every animal yields a distinguished variety of leather that is best suited for a particular use. For instance: You cannot expect a crocodile skin leather to be soft and malleable like the cow leather. In this blog, we will deep-dive into different varieties of animal leathers and their best uses. By the end of it, your knowledge about leather will help you make informed choices in future.
Cowhide leather is far more affordable and versatile as compared to any other variety of leather. It is flexible, breathable and supple and often conforms to the body shape of the wearer. Cowhide leather is durable as it has great tolerance for sunlight and heat along with commendable water-resistance properties. Fortunately, cowhide leather is thick and heavy but not to a level that it makes you feel uncomfortable. Arguably, it is the most-widely used a variety of leather to make footwear, automobile seats, clothing, bags, book bindings, fashion accessories, and furniture.
In comparison to cowhide leather, buffalo leather is three times thicker, stronger and more durable. This beautiful leather is available in a variety of colors like deep reds, browns and blacks making it all the more desirable in the fashion industry. It is strong and robust but surprisingly soft and flexible too. Buffalo leather jackets are bought throughout the year because of its excellent thermal adaptation quality. The fabric adjusts to your body temperature making it a comfortable choice for heat of the summer and cool of the winter. Cleaning is not a big bummer because the fabric is water and dust resistant.
Very supple and soft, goat leather is finally making a splashing entry in the fashion scene. It is strong but thin with a paper-like feel which makes it a perfect choice for making leather apparel and designer bags. Balenciaga recently introduced their ‘City’ bag made out of goat leather.
Pigskin is pretty much like cowhide leather because of similar properties. Pigskin hide is a tad bit sturdier which makes it best-suited for making coats, leather jackets and footballs. Most people often confuse the two because their look and feel are quite similar to each other.
Although loved by many, sheepskin leather is not the most durable variety of leather for daily use. This leather has porous grains evenly spread out on a thin and soft surface which makes it only suitable for leather linings of bags, jackets and other leather goods. This type of leather is quite warm as it is a good conductor of heat for the body.
Lambskin leather is used by designer labels like Chanel and Hermes. This buttery soft leather is highly elastic and stretches extremely well without losing its original shape. Lambskin leather is extremely fragile and can be distorted with scratches and stains. Your designer goods need discreet care and protection every time you step out. Given the suppleness of the fabric, lambskin is only used to make high-end small leather goods, handbags and jackets.
The only kind of leather you should be eyeing for when buying regular use leather products like bags and wallets. It is tough but also quite soft and supple at the same time making it a good pick for daily wear items.
Chamois, buck and antelope
Although no longer in use, buck leather was once the star of all leather types. The antelope leather is fairly difficult to work with which refrains its use in the leather industry. On the other hand, chamois leather has baby soft skin which makes it a prized possession for leather lovers.
The noblest and expensive variety of leather has to be the one-of-a-kind crocodile leather. The natural finish, great strength and lifelong durability make it a preferred choice for the elite groups. This variety of leather is used to make women sandals, shoes, bags and wallets. Alligator leather is used uber-luxurious items like the Hermes Kelly bag which has a unique pattern of alligator skin.
Anaconda, cobra and python skins are used to create this unique and colored variety of leather. Fashion trends in the last couple of years have boosted the demand for snakeskin leather goods like shoes, bags, heels and belts. This variety of leather is thin and soft which is why it is usually used for making smaller leather goods.
Gradually gaining popularity, ostrich leather one of the finest and most durable types of leather in the world. It has a uniquely bumpy texture that is flexible, soft to touch but strong otherwise. It is widely used by luxury labels like Gucci, Fendi, Prada, LV and Hermes to make the outer shell of their bags.
At least 25 times more durable than cowhide, stingray leather is widely used in the fashion and textile industry. Its incredible durability and exotic beauty make this type of skin a unique choice for anything from wallets to furniture. Stingray leather is used to make boots, shoes, knife tools, car and motorcycle seat cover, furnishings etc.
The growing concerns of animal poaching have urged the world to graduate towards Vegan or Faux leather. This has affected the use and popularity of genuine leather in price-sensitive markets but those with deeper pockets still prefer the luxurious genuine leather. There are a certain charm and class-apart feeling of owning leather goods that are made out of animal hides. You will know it when you feel it!