There are many reasons why leather still remains a popular choice in today’s world. Firstly, leather lasts a long time without deteriorating. Secondly, although scientific advancement has seen many substitutes emerge, they’re inadequate. They’re impressions that don’t have the versatility and quality of leather.
Thirdly, Its ability to last in any weather makes it an attractive buy. Given you take care of your leather products, they will maintain their robustness in any weather. Lastly, leather wear always remains fashionable. Leather jackets are timeless pieces of outerwear that are trendy and comfortable. Leather gloves are a popular choice in cold places due to their warm and stretchable nature.
All these factors result in leather still being sought after even today. Granted, they are expensive, but all these features justify their price. Their longevity means that this one-time investment is a smart one.
Sources Of Leather
The different types of leather vary in both, disposition and function. They differ based on the products they produce. Having said that, it is difficult for a layman to recognize these differences.
The most glaring difference is between real and synthetic leather. The former is then subdivided into 5 categories. All of which have different features that make them suitable for certain products.
Extracted from cows, it is their natural, unaltered skin that’s transformed into leather after going through multiple processes. Though not very elastic or soft, they are a valuable ingredient in various products. Due to their warm constitution, they are ideal for making leather jackets. They’re frequently used in making biker jackets.
Often referred to as shearling, it is the hide of a sheep with some wool still intact. Without wool, it’s just called sheep leather. It is a highly-rated version of leather. Interestingly, it is the lightest of all the leather types and is known for its softness and suppleness. Though less warm and strong than cowhide, its stretchability and versatility make it the most popular of all the leather types.
A young sheep provides lambskin, which means it has a softer and smoother touch. It has similar properties to sheepskin leather. However, the main difference lies in the porous nature of lambskin leather. This results in the latter requiring protection to maintain its structure. To this end, dirt or oil is used to stick in and close the pores to protect the leather. Leather conditioners and cleaners are also used to prevent any damage.
With a rugged and grainy appearance, goatskin leather is a distinct type of leather. Being soft and supple along with being water-resistant allows it to have unmatched versatility. Often confused with Moroccan leather, its resilience is the reason it’s used in making accessories, rugs, apparel, etc.
With an elegant look, a smooth surface, and a luxe look, calfskin leather is of the highest quality. It’s produced from domesticated cattle. Its adaptable nature means that different processes and finishes can alter it to the user’s liking. Calfskin leather has 2 major finishes: aniline and semi-aniline.
The former is one of the most famous finishes in the leather industry. The final processing done is so light and pure that it effortlessly draws attention. A noticeable feature of aniline is that it maintains the marks that were present on the animal’s body. With this in consideration, calfskin leather is a perfect candidate. Its smooth and spotless skin ensures that the subsequent product produced is of the highest quality and aesthetically pleasing. Semi-aniline differs mainly in that it has a protective coating for protection. It is also considered more durable.
The 5 Grades
The layers and volume present in the final product of the animal hide determine the type of leather. Apart from its type, the breed and condition of the animal are also vital factors in the overall quality. There are 5 types or grades of leather
Full Grain Leather
It is the outermost layer of leather that is uncontaminated. It is unaltered and not buffed in any way, which makes it so expensive. As the outermost layer, it is densely packed with fibers, which makes it very durable. It is the answer to the question, “What is the top grade of leather?”
Top Grain Leather
When the very top layer of a cut gets sanded or buffed, it turns into top-grain leather. It has its imperfections removed through processing or dyes. Though its durability and resistance are slightly comprised, it’s stylistically more appealing. Its relative softness and smoothness make it a suitable choice for handbags, footwear, etc.
A cut extracted from any layer of the grain and goes through multiple processes is genuine leather. The many treatments it goes through make it aesthetically pleasing. That’s why it’s also called “corrected leather”. However, going through so many alterations means it loses some of the base leather qualities.
Usually found just above the animal’s flesh, it’s found in the lower layers of a grain. Though its quality pales in comparison to the grades mentioned above, it has its uses. It’s often used in the process of leather finishing for those that are bossed or embossed. Suede is also formed from split-grain leather.
It is a man-made material made from scraps of shredded leather bonded together with polyurethane. The amount of leather in this mix varies from 10% to 90% depending on the material available. Its durability and quality are the lowest of all leather grades. It is often colored for an enticing appearance. Moreover, to give it the appearance of a particular leather grade, it’s possible to boss and press it.
Leather can help make a plethora of products. The different types and qualities of leather enable it to be the right fit for different products. Though the same grade of leather can make the same product, its qualities and functions might differ. Here are a few examples of leather products.
The softness, smoothness, and elasticity of sheepskin leather mean the world’s best gloves can be made from it. Additionally, Its lightweight and tensile strength also make it a suitable candidate. The water-resistance ability of deerskin makes it a popular choice for glove production, too.
The ideal leather type for shoes is a tricky question. Firstly, different shoes are made for different purposes, e.g, formal wear, sportswear, etc. Secondly, different parts of a shoe require leather. Uppers: the outer surface. Lining and insole: the surface area of the lining and insole of the shoe. Sole: the outer sole that is in contact with the floor. Different sources and grades of leather, based on the nature and quality of the shoe, determine what leather to use.
Punching Bag Leather
The nature of punching bags requires them to be durable and have excellent tensile strength. This means that goatskin leather is the ideal candidate for this. Its graininess and ruggedness maintain the punching bag’s integrity. It also allows it to last a long time.
All in all, different leather comes from different sources for different purposes. That’s why many industries are so dependent on the efficient and quality production of leather. .