Leather Categories

Leather can sometimes be perceived as a mystifying material to some, especially to those more familiar with working with man-made fabrics and textiles. Leather is a very natural material and therefore has inherent traits and qualities that only natural materials do. However, understanding leather doesn’t have to be so complicated if you realize that despite the dozens of qualities and types of leather on the market, most leathers can be categorized in one of two categories: Aniline or Finished. What do these categories mean?

ANILINE is defined as a type of leather product that is aniline-dyed with a soft, supple texture or hand. It is made by a process of dyeing the raw material with various color dyes. Natural variations in color, tone, and texture are part of the beauty of this leather and highlight each hide’s unique history and natural markings. The dye does not provide full coverage of the hide and therefore Aniline leather is less consistent than Finished leather. Due to the lack of full finish coverage, this product type is subject to more soiling, fading, and wear.

FINISHED is defined as a type of leather product that is an aniline-dyed cow hide. Its natural grain character and soft comfortable hand create an aesthetically-pleasing leather. It is made by a process of surface coat-ing/coloration of a natural product with mechanical spray application of pigmented formula and topcoat which provides protection from soiling, fading, and wear. Finished leather is more consistent than Aniline leathers and fewer defects are apparent with a Finished Leath-er as compared to an Aniline leather. Another point is that some of these leathers may additionally be further qualified into Embossing and/or Hand Tipping leathers. Emboss-ing and Hand Tipping leathers are not their own categories, but rather they imply these added processes are applicable on certain products. 

EMBOSSING is the process of adding a distinctive pattern to leather through the use of engraved or etched plates or rolls with heat or pressure. Embossed designs may be an imitation of the natural grain, different types of animal skins, geometric patterns, or custom designs. The Embossing process may be added to both Finished Hides or Aniline Hides. Inconsistency in pattern look (i.e., depth of print) may be evident due to processing. Depending on the pattern, visible match lines may be present. The size of plate or width of roll and match lines are defined on showroom sample la-bels and should be taken into account for appropriateness depending on the intended application.

HAND TIPPING is the process wherein the characteristic finish effect
(pigment) of leather is applied by hand. This human pro-cessing may affect the final look of the product. Variance in design and color is part of the natural beauty of this leather. Inconsistency in look of product within a hide and from hide to hide should be expected.