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Leather Industry Jargon: What Does It All Mean?

23 May, 2013

Leather Industry Jargon: What Does It All Mean?

The terminology used when describing the leather making process can be a little confusing to consumers. We'd like to help solve this problem by providing you with a quick explanation of a few key terms. You may also refer to the American Leather Chemists Association for further explanation of these terms.

  •  Aniline Finish: A clear finish with little or no pigmentation. This is a type of leather dyed exclusively with soluble dyes without covering the surface with a topcoat paint or insoluble pigments. The resulting product retains the hide's natural surface with the 'grain', i.e. visible pores, scars etc. of the complete original animal's skin structure.
  • Calf Leather: Leather made from the skins of young cattle. It is finer-grained, lighter in mass, and more supple than cowhide or kip leathers.
  • Pebbled Grain: An embossed-leather grain finish resembling a pebbled surface.
  • Skin: The pelt of a small animal, such as calf, pig, or sheep, etc. Also used interchangeably with hide. 
  • Suede: Leather finished by buffing with an emery wheel to produce a napped surface.  
  • Tanning: The process of turning hide into leather. 
  • Top Grain: The first cut taken from the grain side of a split hide from which nothing except the hair and associated epidermis has been removed.
  • Vegetable Tanning: The conversion of raw hides into leather by treating with water solutions of tannin extracted from materials of vegetable origin. 
  • Full Grain: Having the original grain surface of the skin.
  • Grain: The texture and pattern on the surface of the leather. High quality leathers will demonstrate unique characteristics with each piece to resemble that of the animal it was derived from.
  • Nubuck: This is a full aniline that has been sanded or buffed in order to create a nap. This is atop grain leather, therefore it is not considered a split or suede.

We hope this post will help you make a more informed decision when shopping for quality leather products. Steer clear of "bonded" or "corrected grain" products, as they consist of lower caliber leathers. When shopping for the highest quality products on the market, be sure to look for Full Grain Calf products that are Aniline finished. Make sure they meet your aesthetic preferences too! Whether you're looking for python, french calf ,pebble grain, suede or mock products, we are confident that our leathers will amaze you. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list for new products and promotions! We are certain that you will look to us for all of your leather needs once you wear one of our belts.