The Timelessness Of Leather
Leather is one of the rare materials whose rich history stretches back to 7,000+ years. For those unaware, it’s a natural material obtained from the skins of various animals. Different skins result in the production of different qualities of it. Moreover, the layer of the skin is also a measure of the quality of the material.
Over the years, its uses have diversified and increased with the rapid progress of technology playing its part. However, undoubtedly its popularity has remained constant measured by its appeal to various industries for multiple reasons. Even today, many experts consider it an asset.
Its sustained fame isn’t a mistake. It remains popular for a plethora of reasons each of which highlights its efficacy in different sectors.
- Durability: It is one of the most durable raw materials in the world and has been for centuries. Its ability to absorb tremendous wear and tear whilst holding its integrity is what makes it such a valuable product. A good deal of outerwear that goes through rigorous processes prefers it due to its unparalleled durability.
- Versatility: Another reason for its universal presence today is its versatility. Its properties and qualities are diverse. That’s why, many industries employ it for various reasons today. It ranges from the fashion sector using it for its aesthetics to the manufacturing sector for its toughness.
- Malleability: Expanding on its greatness, it is one of the rare natural materials that are able to mold itself. It’s possible to stiffen or make it more flexible depending on the requirements whilst maintaining its standards. That’s why, it’s such a lucrative material in the footwear industry.
- Water Absorption & Release: The most unique aspect of it is its ability to absorb moisture and gradually release it back. That’s why, the fashion industry uses it frequently as it absorbs perspiration without damaging itself. The amount of moisture it’s able to store is dependent on the type and the environment.
A grade refers to the layer of the animal skin utilized for making leather. This provides a measure of quality that describes its constitution after it goes through a number of processing treatments. Before we go further, it’s prudent to mention that the grades are subjective and vary by tannery, region, and evaluator. That’s why, it’s likely for a little variability to exist in assessment. However, it gives craftsmen an idea of the quality they’re acquiring and the best way to utilize it
- Full-Grain Leather: Considered the highest grade of leather, many define it as the most natural one. It stands out as the cut obtained entirely from the top layer and holds its original pattern. Because of this, it’s the strongest, most durable, and breathable of them all.
- Top-Grain Leather: Even though it’s also extracted from the top layer, it’s not the same as Full-Grain. The difference lies in the treatments or sanding that it goes through which removes a thin surface layer from the top. Although this allows it to achieve a smooth, perfect finish and pattern, its durability decreases.
- Split-Grain Leather: Cut from the bottom layer of the skin, this grade’s properties are different from others. This results in it being a fair bit weaker than its top-layered counterpart. Having said that, it has the softest touch of all grades. Consequently, it’s often used in places where there’s low impact and friction like the steering wheel.
- Genuine Leather: Acquired from the intermediate section of the skin, its name is slightly misleading. However, this means it neither has the durability of the top layer nor the softness of the bottom layer. That’s why, it goes through multiple processing treatments before becoming usable.
- Bonded Leather: This is the lowest quality available. Made up of leather dust and scraps that are bonded together with a solution, its value diminishes. However, since it’s the cheapest of all grades, industries use it for menial purposes.
The extraction of different types of leather from various animals determines their traits. Each one has its distinct qualities which makes them suitable for different roles. Having said that, a deep understanding of the types is essential for making an informed decision.
- Cow Skin Leather: Perhaps it’s the most demanded of all types due to its remarkable resistance to constant wear and tear. As a result, it stands prominent in industries making furniture, apparel, sports gear, etc. The variety of colors and finishes in which it’s available only adds to its popularity.
- Sheep Skin Leather: Derived from their namesake animal, it possesses unique qualities. This includes its elasticity which makes its texture rubbery and supple. Add its lightweight, and the result is an ideal option for making outwear including hats, jackets, gloves, etc. Moreover, its elegant structure makes it a valuable possession.
- Chamois Leather: Traditionally extracted from a European Mountain Goat called the Chamois, it stands out. Renowned for its non-abrasive and lint-free features, that allow it to attain an unparalleled finish. Couple this with its exceptional tensile strength, and it becomes a prized material in the automotive industry.
- Bicast Leather: Moving on from the authentic, it’s a mixture of split grain and polyurethane embossed to appear natural. Also referred to as reconstituted leather, it possesses the attributes of both natural and synthetic ones. It has a higher glossiness and consistency than natural hide. However, it lacks the endurance and versatility of the original.
- Nappa Leather: It’s a dyed, full-grain leather obtained from kid or calf skin -. The difference between this and other types is predominantly the tanning process. It goes through multiple processes to enhance its softness, durability, and resistance to fading. That’s why, furniture upholstery, car seats, and other heavy-duty items employ it regularly.
- Aniline Leather: After obtaining any cut, usually Nappa leather, the process of dousing the tanned hide in aniline dyes starts. This particular colorant allows the natural features of the hide to shine through while giving it a unique look. Having said that, it’s susceptible to stains and fading which means it requires constant care. This rare combination is what renders it ideal for making high-quality furniture and apparel.
- Faux Leather: Completely synthetic, it’s an alternative to genuine leather. Many prefer to use it to avoid the moral guilt of owning the natural ones. Having said that, it possesses many traits that are similar to its authentic counterpart. As a result, industries making outerwear, furniture, and other similar goods prefer it.
The Most Expensive One
Different kinds of hides produce different goods at specific prices. Of them all, the most expensive type is definitely Crocodile leather for its unique pattern, durability, and softness.
At the end of the day, leather is an ever-present part of our lives. Finding the right one can be a demanding and tiresome task. However, with a basic understanding of the different types that exist, the decision becomes considerably easier.