ANILINE LEATHER: Usually a Full Grain premium quality hide that has been dyed using only organic based aniline dyes to produce the most natural looking leather possible with the original surface characteristics of the hide remaining visible.
All surface imperfections and flaws are not hidden with a surface coating of polymer and pigment as it is coloured only with dyes. Natural colour variations may be apparent and this type of leather is prone to colour fading and stains as it has no protection applied to the surface.
Aniline dyed leathers may not be consistent in colour throughout as it is dyed rather than coated and all hides may not absorb the dye with the same consistency, so there may be colour variations unless a pigment or other finish has been used to colour the top surface.
If cared for properly, a beautiful Patina will develop on the leather surface with time. Use in limited quantities for manufacturing the finest leather quality products. Aniline leather is classed as an Unfinished Leather.
BONDED LEATHER: Also known as Reconstituted Leather and made from leather leftovers scraps that are shredded and then bonded together with polyurethane or latex binders onto a thin fibre sheet to give it the appearance of genuine leather. The varying percentages of real leather in the mix ranges anywhere between 10% and 90%, affecting the strength, texture and smell of such products to a large extent.
Because of the substantial reduction in cost of production, it is the manufacturers popular choice material for furniture upholstery where low costs are a priority. Taking into account the broad formulation mix, durability can vary greatly too.
Hence, it is generally not recommended because of an increasingly bad reputation among the general public in various industries, notably the furniture industry where durability is a major concern for consumers.
BRIDLE LEATHER: Made using only the best quality hides that underwent a very costly intensive finishing process. This involves adding special oils, grease and coloured wax polishes to coat the top layers of the skins to give the leather a deep even color and smooth finish.
Bridle leather for actual equestrian use is very soft and flexible, enabling the horse to wear it comfortably on it delicate facial skin, yet has a strong ability to handle the force of repeated use and repeal sweat and dirt. Bridle leather is only used in high end bridles; economical bridles are not crafted from this type of leather.
BUFFALO LEATHER: Refers to hides from the American Buffalo (Bison) but often confused with the Asian water buffalo, a totally different breed and quality. Buffalo hides are tanned differently from cow hides as traditional tanning methods like brain and vegetable (bark) tanning are preferred to create the best possible quality leather.
Grain patterns on buffalo hides are very distinct from cow hides and hides are often smaller in size despite being a larger animal as they not stretched in order to preserve their unique and desirable grain patterning.
BYCAST LEATHER: Also known as PU Leather because it is made using Split leather laminated with a layer of Polyurethane and further embossed with an artificial leather grain. The resulting material is stiffer but at a much lower cost than top-grain leather and has a more consistent texture because its surface is completely enveloped in plastic.
Although easier to clean and maintain, it exhibits none of the desirable characteristics associated with genuine leather and will not develop a patina or suppleness nor otherwise improve with age. It has since developed a bad reputation with consumers in the furniture industry due to the polyurethane layer quickly cracking and splitting free of its backing under constant use. Originally invented for the shoe industry and subsequently adopted by the furniture industry.
CABRETTA LEATHER: Soft leather made from the skins of certain breeds of South American or African sheep that grow hair instead of wool, used mainly for shoes and gloves as it is stronger than other sheepskins.
CALFSKIN LEATHER: Made from the hide of a Calf and of very high quality, soft to the touch, providing a well-seasoned feeling even when new. The grain pattern on the young hide is dense enough to give the appearance of almost no discernible grain. It is usually vegetable (bark) tanned to ensure top quality and highly valued for its durability.
CHROME TANNED: Hides that are tanned solely with chromium salts or chromium salts in combination with smaller quantities of other tanning agents that are used to facilitate the chrome-tanning process but not in sufficient quantities to alter the fundamental chrome tanned properties of the leather.
CORRECTED GRAIN LEATHER: Any hide that has had an artificial leather grain applied to its surface. Only hides that cannot meet the standards required for creating vegetable tanned or aniline leather are used to create corrected leather. Much of the imperfections are corrected by sanding or buffing followed by an artificial grain embossed into the surface and finally given a polymer surface coat of pigments.
Corrected-grain leather is often used to make pigmented leather as the pigments further help improve on the corrections and hide any remaining imperfections. Better quality Corrected grain leathers are usually given a semi-aniline finish and the remainder a pigmented finish.
CROCKING: Leather colour or finish transferred to other materials by rubbing or abrasion.
CRUST: Leather that is not finished even though it has completed the tanning, dyeing and drying process.
DEERSKIN LEATHER: Prized for its soft to the touch, suppleness, ability to breathe but yet lightweight and highly durable. The durability of deerskin originated from deer hides evolving to protect the animal in its wild natural habitat. Highly valued for its unique attributes and tear resistance, deerskin is often used in gloves and other luxury products that require these qualities.
DISTRESSED LEATHER: A leather that is aniline dyed to create an artificially well-worn and aged appearance, leaving intact all the natural characteristics of the hide such as wrinkles, scratches and healed scars to complete the desired look.
DRUM DYED: Process where hides are soaked in dye and tumbled inside a rotating drum to ensure maximum dye absorption and penetration.
EMBOSSING: Pressing a pattern onto the animal hide surface to create uniform motifs or textures resembling the grain patterns of certain animals in order to hide natural defects or blemishes, or to create visually interesting and unique designs that are dissimilar to a natural grain pattern.
FAT LIQUORING: The process of replenishing the natural oils that have been removed from the hide during the tanning process.
FAT WRINKLE: Naturally occurring wrinkles in the leather grains that are formed naturally during the lifetime of the animal. These are only visible in full grain and top grain hides that have not been sanded or buffed.
FINISHING: Refers to any processes including buffing, milling, embossing, spraying, waxing and waterproofing that are performed after the initial dyeing.
FLESHING: Process of removing any remaining fats and flesh from hides by mechanical operation.
FULL GRAIN LEATHER: Hide that has not been sanded, buffed, or treated in any way to remove surface imperfections. The original grain of the hide is left fully intact with all accompanying scars and marks that occurred naturally during the lifetime of the animal, resulting in a hide that is of exceptional strength and durability. If aniline dyed, the pores on the hide will not be covered up, hence maximum breathability is achieved and it will develop a beautiful Patina over time.
HAND ANTIQUED: Also known as “hand rubbing” where leather craftsmen skilfully rub by hand a contrasting colour onto the animal hide surface to highlight the natural leather grain pattern.
HAND: A term that is used to describe the softness and feel of leather.
JUPA LEATHER: This highly processed soft and non-slip cow hide is used almost exclusively for saddle making and utilized mainly in the seat and knee inserts to give especially comfortable seating.
LAMBSKIN LEATHER: A soft supple leather made from the hides of young sheep under a year old that has not developed incisor teeth and its wool still unshorn. Lambskin is more delicate than other animal hides and therefore tanning must be done more gently.
Hence, lambskins often only soak for several hours in acids during the tanning process rather than several weeks. Softer and suppler than most other leathers, it is deemed to be more luxurious and generally cost more than most other leathers. However, due to its thinness, it is not as durable and will be more easily damaged.
LATIGO LEATHER: Cowhide Leather that is first chrome tanned and then vegetable tanned. This combination tanning process together with the further infusion of oils and waxes, results in water resistant, highly durable, moderately stiff leathers that will become soft and supple over time through repeated use.
Hence, it is often used in the manufacture of dog collars, dog leases and horse saddle straps, the strap connecting the cinch to the saddle’s rigging.
LIMING: A part of the tanning process that use chemicals to remove unwanted hair from raw hides.
MILLING: Part of the leather crusting process where rotating drums are used in combination with heat and water misting to tumble tanned hides in order to improve the hand and the grain.
NAPPA LEATHER: Generic term for any animal hides that can be either full grain or corrected top grain that has undergone a chrome tanning process to produce an exceptionally smooth and soft leather which is used for a wide variety of fine quality leather products that require a soft hand.
NUBUCK: It is usually made from aniline dyed top grain bovine leather that has been finely sanded on the outside grain surface to break up its short surface protein fibers resulting in slightly raise nap giving it a soft and velvety feel.
PATENT LEATHER: Patent leather is quality hide that has been finished with chemicals to obtain a high gloss reflective surface. This was originally achieved by several applications of a linseed oil based finish to the leather to gradually create the sleek appearance.
Subsequently, the invention of plastics revolutionized the way this leather is produced. Plastic finishes were able to produce similar effects without the traditional multiple applications of linseed oil, with the advantage of considerable cost savings for the producer. It is typically black but comes in other colours too, and has long been a much sought after material for dress and dancing shoes, bags and purses too.
Patent leather is processed in substantially the same manner as with other high quality leathers. However, it is at the final stage when it is coated with a high quality lacquer varnish that gives it its characteristic glossiness.
PATINA: Beautiful Luster that develops gradually on the surface of Nubucks and pure Aniline dyed leathers which grow more beautiful with time.
PIGMENTED (PROTECTED) LEATHER: Sometimes a Full Grain non-premium quality hide but most often a Top Grain hide or Split hide that has been coated with a polymer surface coating containing pigments for enhanced durability, stain/fade resistance and to completely hide all imperfections and blemishes.
Depending on the thickness of the coating, Pigmented leather is usually much more durable in terms of stain, scratch, colour and Fade resistance when compared with Aniline and Semi-Aniline leathers but looked the least natural in appearance. It has also reduced breathability, feels somewhat stiff especially if an artificial grain pattern has been embossed, and will not develop a Patina over time unlike Aniline (Unfinished) Leather.
The most commonly used leather in a wide range of industries including furniture upholstery, car seats, office seating and bags. Pigmented leather is undoubtedly classed as Finished Leather.
PROTECTED ANILINE: A variation of Pure Aniline leather also known as Aniline Plus. The only difference between Pure Aniline and Protected Aniline is that an additional light coating of micro-pigments is applied to it for colour consistency and to enhance its natural appearance, which also offers some protection against spillages, soiling and colour fading.
PULL-UP: Top quality leather that derives colour from aniline dyes, natural based oils and/or waxes. During upholstering, when the leather is pulled and stretched, the oils and/or waxes start to dissipate and lightening in those areas to create a visually pleasing effect.
SAMMIERING: During tanning, the process of removing the water from hides by running them through a machine which presses the water out of the hides.
SEMI-ANILINE LEATHER: Usually a Full Grain premium quality hide that has been dyed in a similar process as aniline leather but with an additional light surface coating of pigment for enhanced durability and colour consistency.
Imperfections and flaws in the leather hide can still be seen if examined close up or using magnification. Semi-aniline Leather colours will look quite uniform but not as varied as Aniline Leathers nor as uniform as pigmented leathers. It should be classed as Finished Leather.
SHEEPSKIN LEATHER: The skin of a sheep with the wool still intact and called a Pelt. Unlike common hides, the pelt goes through a tanning process together with the wool on it to produce a strong leather underside while also preserving the quality of the wool.
SPLIT LEATHER: Leather created during the splitting process when the fibrous bottom half of the hide is separated from the top grain of the rawhide. If the hide is thick enough, the resulting drop split can be split again into a middle split and another split called a flesh split. The middle split can be further split into several more flesh splits in very thick hides until the subsequent thinness finally prevents further splitting.
Split leather has a polymer surface coat of pigments applied to the surface of the split and is then further heat embossed with an artificial leather grain to imitate top grain leather. Splits are often used to create Suede. It is not recommended for use in most leather products in areas where regular contact and stretching is encountered because of its weak structure.
SUEDE: It is usually made using Split hides from lambs, goats, calf and deer that has been buffed and brushed to create a soft fuzzy surface feel similar to Nubuck. Suede is popularly used in upholstery, shoes, bags, other accessories and as an inner lining for other leather products.
TOP GRAIN LEATHER: Hide that comes from the same top layer as full grain leather but its surface considered too flawed to become full grain leather. Hence, it is sanded or buffed to remove all surface imperfections and flaws, making it thinner and weaker than full grain leather but more pliable.
A polymer surface coat of pigments is then applied to it, which is usually followed by an artificial grain embossed onto its surface, resulting in leather with markedly reduced breathability, and preventing a rich Patina developing over time.
Provided the finish remains intact, it is far more resistant to stains and fading than full grain leather.
VEGETABLE TANNED: Hides tanned either exclusively with vegetable tanning agents or such vegetable extracts in combination with smaller quantities of other tanning agents that are used to facilitate the vegetable tanning process for the purpose of improving or modifying the hide, but not in sufficient quantities to alter the fundamental vegetable characteristics of the leather.
A tanning process that is inherently environmentally friendlier than chrome tanning.
WET BLUE LEATHER: Hides that have not been further processed after chrome tanning and are sold in their wet blue condition to other tanners.