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The Leather Alphabet


American style leather description for leathers that have a natural, rugged and often oily look and feel. 

Aniline leather  Leather with a minimal surface finish and an original natural grain surface clearly visible. These leathers usually come from the best quality hides and skins and are used for luxury items. 



Biodegradable leather  Leather is made to last and wear well, but has the ability to degrade biologically in 10-50 years.

Bonded leather  A material that has been made from leather dust, clippings and leather shavings bonded together with a base substance. 

Box calf leather  A firm leather, mostly made from calf skins

Buffed leather  A leather that has had the top surface buffed to produce a soft velvet-like touch.  This term is also sometimes used for nubuck leather. 

Bycast® leather  Split leather that has been finished to a smooth surface with a PU coating. 


Cavallino or hair-on hide or pony leather Cavallino is a hair-on hide that provides a warm and luxurious look. It is strictly tanned with the finest vegetable oils and tanning agents. It has been sheered to assure a more consistent hair length, and then aniline dyed to give every hide a great, vibrant color and rich hand. Each hide will show variance in both color and texture, giving each a distinct one of a kind quality.

Chrome leather  Leather that has been tanned using chrome- most of the world’s leather is tanned this way as it is a proven process that produces a stable end-product.

Chrome free leather  Leather tanned using alternative methods to chrome - usually aldehydes.

Crust leather  Part-processed leather that has been retanned and dyed
but not been through its final finish.


Embossed leather Leather that has a print or surface pattern created through the application of pressure.



Finished leather  Leather that has its final characteristics added, being ready for manufacture into the final product, (shoes, bags, furniture etc.)

Full grain leather  Leather made from the top layer of the hide or skin. 


Genuine leather  A term is used to emphasise that a product is made from natural, real leather, not a synthetic alternative.


Hide  Hides are skins from bigger animals- mainly cattle or buffalo.


Leather  The official and recognised definition of leather is:‘hide or skin with its original fibrous structure more or less intact, tanned to be imputrescible, where the hair or wool may or may not have been removed.’ 

Leather board  Also called bonded leather (see before). This material is often used in shoes (in-between soles) or to give body to a bag. 


Nubuck  A leather that has had the top surface buffed to produce a soft velvet-like touch. Depending on the depth of the buffing there will often be a clearly visible nap. Also known as buffed leather. 


Pigmented leather  Leather that has been finished with a special coating to protect it for heavy duty applications or to cover natural defects. The natural grain structure will not be visible.

Pull-up leather Oil or wax is added to the top surface, when the leather is ‘pulled’ these move creating a unique effect.


Real leather Used to emphasise that a product is made from natural, real leather, not a synthetic alternative.


Semi-aniline leather Leather that has a light finish applied, usually with pigments. The natural grain surface can still be seen but it less susceptible to soiling and easier to care for than aniline leather.

Skin Skins come from smaller animals, mainly sheep, goats or pigs. They are a by-product of the food industry.

Sole leather  A thick firm leather used in footwear, which is produced by vegetable tanning. 

Snuffed grain leather  Similar to buffed or nubuck leather, where the grain is very lightly buffed.

Split leather  The underneath section of the leather after it has been split - the top layer is what creates full grain leather, the split is the second layer and is mostly used to make suede.

Suede The flesh side of the final leather or also used to refer to split leather. The fibers tend to be longer giving it a ‘hairy’ appearance. 


Vegan leather  Marketing term used to refer to synthetic material made to look like leather. In some countries it is forbidden to use the term "vegan" in combination with leather. 

Vegetable leather  A hide or skin that has been tanned using vegetable tannins, it is characterised by a yellow-is colour when wet.


Wet blue  A hide or skin once it has been tanned with chrome and is still wet, before it is dyed. It is characterised by a light blue colour. 

Wet-white  A hide or skin once it has been tanned with Aldehydes, but before it is dyed. It is characterised by a white colour.


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