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Types of Leather

Types of Leather

A Detailed Guide to Different Types of Leather

Posted on August 09 2017

Leather Introduction

Types of Leather

Leather is a highly durable material made by tanning hide or skin of animals. Animal skin undergoes a preservation process i.e. a chemical treatment called tanning to convert the otherwise perishable skin to a non-decaying material called leather. Types of Leather The skin of the larger animals like cow or horse is termed as hide whereas skin of smaller animals like sheep or goat is termed as skin. Leather mostly comes from cattle as a byproduct of the meat industry. Leather of Different Animals

Cow Hide – The most commonly used leather is made from cow hide that is used to produce a large variety of leather products. Leather made from the hide of the adult cow is known as the most versatile leather. The cow leather can be soft and thick and abrasion resistant which makes it a good choice of leather for heavy duty wear.

Buffalo Hide – Buffalo hide is a lot like cowhide but it can be stiffer and has more pronounced leather pattern like deeper groves and cuts. Leather made from buffalo hide can also be used in making of vests, jackets, pants, bags and can also be used for making rugged items like rugs and shoes. A jacket made from buffalo leather is extremely durable and can last a lifetime.

Lamb Skin – Sheep and lamb skin is very soft, supple and light weight. Ideally it is not recommended for making hard wearing items like motorcycle jackets but it is generally used to make garments, trench coats along with pants and gloves. This is the leather of choice for most of the big fashion houses for their jackets and purses.

Deer Skin – Leather made from the deer skin is the toughest leather available and has high tensile strength, abrasion resistant and offers high durability. The skin of the deer is extremely soft and comfortable and has a spongy feel. The light weight, water-friendly and stretchy leather is quite expensive and is generally used for making handbags, wallets and upholstery. It was the leather of choice for Native Americans for their garments.

Goat Skin – Goat skin leather is strong, durable having smooth fine grain and is quite economical. The goat skin leather is tougher than cow leather and is supple, comfortable, light-weight and water resistant and it is relatively cheap. The goat skin leather is used for making clothes, book covers, gloves, shoes and bags.

Different Leather Grades

Leather is generally available in the following grades:


Full Grain – Full grain leather is the finest of all leathers where only the hair is removed from the epidermis and the hides have not been snuffed, sanded or buffed to remove imperfections or marks and comprises of the entire thickness of the skin. The leather has great strength and durability as the grain remains on the skin. The full-grain leather is available in two types of finishes called aniline and semi-aniline and it is generally used for the making of highest quality furniture, luggage and footwear.

Top Grain – This is the second highest grade of leather after full grain. It is split from the top layer of blemished hide and then it is sanded and refinished to get rid of scars and scrapes. It is still strong and durable. It is mainly used for garment manufacturing. It has greater stain resistance than full grain leather if its finish is maintained.

Corrected Grain – This is a leather that has artificial grain applied to its surface and this leather does not meet the standards that is required for creating vegetable-tanned or aniline leather. The imperfections are corrected or sanded off and an artificial grain is embossed into the surface with dyes.

Split Leather – This leather grain is derived from middle and lower layers of the epidermis and is created from the fibrous part of the hide that is left after separating top-grain of the rawhide. After the hide has been bronzed, a heavy treatment is given on leather. This leather grade is exclusively used for making suede or corrected grain leathers and is greatly preferred by furniture manufacturers for its sturdiness. Some associate this type of leather with “genuine leather” even though the term can be taken for its literal meaning as “genuine” or “real” where the maker is just trying to indicate its real leather rather than synthetic.

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