Take the time you need to choose the leather for your jacket because it will be the best investment time. This crucial choice will dictate everything from looks to comfort to performance and durability, so it’s not something you should take lightly. That said, leather tanning is an incredibly complex process, with many factors to consider. There are many types of leather, which can sometimes be very difficult to choose. We will try to help you with this by commenting on the different types of leather and their primary qualities.
THE MOST COMMON
Cow Hide The first option is usually cowhide. Although most leather jackets are made of cowhide, the reality is that bovine leather is quite stiff and takes a long time to adapt and become comfortable until you get it to be a little flexible and you can move inside your body. Jacket comfortably. Being the cheapest, it is widely used for leather jackets, although it is really better for more specialized garments, such as motorcycle suits or leather goods
Lam Skin Lamb is a highly soft skin, but at the same time, very resistant. Being more elastic than cowhide, it is ideal for jackets since it will not have to adapt to you. With just one time you put on your leather jacket you will see that, if it is well made, it will be very comfortable for you. Lambskin is the leather of choice for most high-end brands. A much softer alternative is calf leather, which is supple and soft but very delicate; any scratches or chafing will remain on the skin. On the other hand, we find goat skin manageable and flexible; It is also skinny, making it perfect for delicate and light items, such as gloves.
Sheepskin is lighter than goat or cowhide, but it is not as strong and is used more in the pilot-style jackets we discussed earlier.
THE MOST EXOTIC
Horse, deer, or bison hides are even stiffer than cowhide and are incredibly resistant. This means that they are not used much for making leather jackets, but they make them the ideal material when looking for protection and not comforts, such as in motorcycle suits and jackets.
THE MOST LUXURIOUS
Kangaroo leather is quite similar to cowhide but more delicate and resistant. It is rare to find it nowadays, so brands tend to charge exorbitant prices for garments made of this material.
Crocodile and alligator skins are very similar, with large squares and rectangles forming tiled patterns. Alligator skins will have visible hair follicles (small dots) on each square, while alligators will not. Extremely expensive, with jackets costing 20 times more than their equivalent made from cow or lamb. In addition, they are protected by international laws for the protection of this type of animal, so you should always carry the breeding certificate of the animal with which the garment has been made…
To make leather, the upper part of the hide is separated from the rougher lower part, known as the corium. These are divided according to their thickness and then gently shaved and sanded to give them their characteristic softness and fuzzy texture. Suede is usually made from goat or lamb. Lamb suede is softer than goat suede, but goat suede is more durable.
The big drawback of suede is that you can’t get anything wet, as it dries out and becomes extremely hard. Fortunately, you can buy plenty of suede protectors to make your jacket water repellent without changing its original softness.
Fake fur or commonly called leatherette is a plastic made from chemicals that are terrible for the environment and doesn’t look anywhere near as good as one made from leather. Could you stay away from them?
THE GRAIN AND THE DYE
Leather comes in different weights, depending on the animal it came from, and these are divided into various cuts. Full grain leather uses all of the skin, including the outer layer of skin in its original state, showing the grain patterns, marks, and scars the animal has had during its life. Only the best quality hides are suitable for creating full grain leather, which is reflected in their price. Due to its thickness is quite stiff and will develop a natural patina over time, gaining a unique kind of beauty with age. Another type is top grain, where the bottom layer is removed, leaving only the outer layer. It is thinner and more flexible than full-grain leather and often coated with stain coloring or waterproof materials to give it a longer lifespan. As such, it does not develop a patina, which means that a top grain jacket will always look the same. Most fashion jackets (as opposed to functional jackets) on the market today are made from top-grain leather. Corrected grain, meanwhile, is the lowest grade of leather available and is embossed with an artificial pattern to simulate the look of higher grades. It’s unlikely you’ll find a jacket made from this material, but you certainly shouldn’t buy one if you do. Lastly, split grain leather is the bottom part of the hide (split from the top grain), which is then lightly abraded to produce suede. The last thing to consider is the tinting and finishing process applied to the leather. The two main methods used today are chrome and vegetable tanning (although there are many more), which can be broadly considered synthetic and natural approaches. Chromium dyeing (using the chemical chromium sulfate) is very fast and produces smooth, evenly colored, weatherproof leather. However, it is terrible for the environment and looks noticeably more artificial.
Vegetable dyeing is a centuries-old practice of treating leather using wood bark and other vegetable matter. Most good-quality jackets are tinted this way. It is a much slower process, so it is more expensive but much more respectful of the environment. With this, we finish the analysis of the different types of skins that exist. We hope that it has been helpful to you in deciding which one to choose.