What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of leather? Is it the shiny black biker jacket worn by Salman Khan or the designer bag that Sonam Kapoor was just spotted with? Well, leather is not just a piece of fabric; it is an emotion, a feeling of owning something more than just threads and weaves. Leather clothing and accessories are mostly associated with elite, rich and upper-class individuals. India being one of the largest producers of leather has also become one of the largest consumers too. The fabric that was once prohibitively expensive and rare has now become an everyday product for those with the purchasing power.
Leather, as we know it, is the glistening, smooth and reflective fabric that is used to make jackets, handbags, shoes, watch straps, belts and now home décor including furniture and detailing too. For your knowledge, there is a whole lot more to the ‘leather’ market than that one signature style. Yes, there are over 50 varieties of leather available in India alone. You can explore options like ostrich leather, full-grain leather, top grain leather, split-grain leather, suede leather, Nubuck and many more. Let us explore a little bit more about the types of leather that you choose from.
Based on types of tanning
Vegetable Tanned Leather Vs Chrome Tanned
The age-old process of vegetable tanning is all-natural using organic material and natural tannin derived from the barks, leaves and branches of trees. Vegetable-tanned leather can last more than a lifetime.
Most widely used chrome tanned leather is processed with chromium salts and tanning liquors, however, it must be closely monitored to reduce environmental impact. The process is faster and cheaper than vegetable tanning which makes it a go-to choice for fashion labels. Chrome tanning allows you to have leather in colors from black to neon to bright pinks etc.
Based on Animal Skin
Cowhide – Predominantly used for making belts shoes, bags and biker jackets men. It is far stronger and durable than its counterparts.
Sheepskin – Due to its gentle feel and light weight, sheepskin leather is preferred by both genders for making gloves, hats and boots. This type is highly stretchable and adjusts to the body shape with use.
Goatskin – A bit suppler than cowhide leather, goatskin leather is flexible and easy to work with which makes it a popular choice for making apparel, footwear and accessories. It exudes luxurious vibes and looks ultra-glam when worn with style.
Lambskin leather – Used by high-end brands to produce premium products like high-quality leather jackets, shoes and other apparel. Clothing made out of lambskin leather is a must-have for those residing in colder temperatures. It is well-known for its thinness, flexibility and warming qualities that also promise durability and great fashion appeal.
Based on finish
Aniline leather is more luxury than functionality because any exposure to sunlight and water can destroy it. This type of leather is rare and hence expensive. Leather dealers often fool people by selling them semi-aniline leather in the name of this precious commodity.
Rendered as one of the cheapest leathers, this one is barely close to the naturally occurring leathers. Often divided into two categories – full grain and corrected grain pigmented leather. Widely used in the automotive industry, this kind of leather is great for rough and tough handling as any scar or blemish can be fixed with one pigment spray.
This type of leather is enhanced with polymer spray and embossing for a more natural-looking appearance. This kind of leather is not-so-durable hence best-suited for low-stress or use situations.
This type of aniline leather is coated with natural oils or waxes instead of paint or pigments to give it a natural and oily top finish. The oily pull-up is highlighted by a platina that underlines aged elegance in furniture, shoes and bags.
If you’re a fan of vintage fashion then jackets, shoes and wallets made out of antique grain leather can be your go-to. This type of leather comes with a paler underlying colour that is attained by spraying contrasting top-coat.
The slightly velvety but mostly leather jackets that you love are made out of Nubuck. Sturdier than suede, Nubuck is expensive and is available in a great variety of whites and other colours.
Made from the underline of the animal skin, Suede leather is soft and easier to convert into jackets, boots, shoes, bags and even furniture. The soft Suede is delicate and has a low tolerance for water and sunlight which makes them non-durable, to say the least.
Based on embossing
Embossed leather is made by stamping the leather with heat and high pressure to attain various textures like that of crocodile, snake, alligator, flowers, saffiano and even logos.
Crocodile Print – Stamped with a pattern that resembles crocodile skin. This leather is widely used for making designer bags and shoes.
Snakeskin Print – Fashionista’s favorite snakeskin leather raise the snake design on the surface of the leather. The texture appears like that of snakeskin.
Saffiano Print – Derived from calfskin, this leather gives a unique ‘scratched’ look which essentially became popular with Prada bags. Due to wax treatment, the Saffiano print is scratch-resistant and highly durable.
Based on grains
Comes with a distinctive smell and a hefty price tag, the full-grain leather is known for its natural finish with all those scars and scratches that naturally occur in nature. This type of leather is durable, scratch-resistant and ages into something even more beautiful.
The second-highest grade of leather that is split from the top layer of the blemished hide is sanded and smoothed to get rid of any scars and blemishes. It is durable and functional but ageing sure takes a toll on its appearance.
As the name suggests, the imperfections are corrected, sanded-off and an additional layer of artificial grain are embossed onto the surface. Mostly used to make shoes that are cheap but ‘look expensive’ as the leather doesn’t meet the quality standards of top-grain leather but can be used with imprinting another layer of grains for betterment.
This type of leather is made out of the fibrous part of the hide left after the top-grain has been separated from the hide. It is less attractive and non-durable which is why it is mostly used in the backside of the furniture.
No matter what kind of leather you like or own; it is essential to take good care of your leather products n order to ensure durability. Invest in key pieces that are quintessential for your wardrobe and home and be aware of fake leather in market like faux leather, leatherette, PU etc.