The leather industry is one the oldest industries known to mankind. The leather was used by our ancestors to protect their body, hands and feet. Leather can be made from the hide of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, deer, elk antelope and even horses through the process of tanning. This process preserves the skin which would otherwise quickly putrefy or decay.
Tanning is the process of removing hair from the skin. This allows increases in the strength, softness and the pliability and in turn makes it waterproof.
Types of leather
- Full Grain Leather is supple and offers a high quality finish. Only the top grain (surface) of the hide is selected. This means that the piece is unique. Full grain leather is not altered in terms of the blemishes that occur on the hide; they are neither sanded nor buffed.
- Top Grain Leather can be considered as the opposite of Full Grain. The markings and blemishes are sanded and buffed and a finishing coat is added. It is widely used type of leather as its less expansive but has greater resistance
- Corrected Grain Leather get the effect because it is partially buffered allowing the imperfections to be removed. This is then finished with a coating of the desired colour. A protective layer is also applied to ensure that it is hard wearing.
- Split Leather is traditionally less in quality. The thicker hides can be split several times. All of the imperfection and natural markings are removed. The leather is then coated with a protective coating to increase the durability.
What affects the price of the leather?
- The quality of the hide: top grain steer hides are the most durable and strongest leather available. As a rule of thumb, leather with a higher percentage of natural markings and healed scars are generally lower priced.
- Method of finishing or dying: full aniline dyed is more expensive than semi-aniline dyed leather due to the difficulty in finding superior hide. Also leather that has been hand coloured are generally more expensive than machined sprayed leather.
- Popularity of a given colour: naturally the colour that is produced in large quantities will be less expensive than a few custom-made colours. There is little setup cost to mass produce the same colour. This saving is then passed on.
- Import vs. Domestic: if the leather has to be imported then the cost of the product will dramatically increase.
Leather is widely used and can used for a plethora of products. These can range from your traditional leather sofas and jackets, to handmade leather boots, to leather journals and photo frames and albums.